According to researchers from the Yale School of Medicine, giving children instant lottery tickets as a gift can increase their chance of gambling later in life.

Lead author Priya V. Kundu and Yale investigators Corey E. Pilver, Rani A. Desai, and Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin from the Yale School of Medicine observed 2,000 Connecticut high school students. They found children who are given lottery tickets early in life develop permissive attitudes towards gambling, compared to children who were not given lottery tickets as gifts.

Among those who received lottery tickets at a young age, researchers found a strong association between the age when an individual began gambling and the severity of problem gambling.

The severity of problem gambling was also associated with other conditions such as depression, alcohol and drug abuse.

The study was not able to determine whether or not early gifts of lottery tickets influenced later problem gambling because researchers did not follow students over time. Nevertheless, the study does support prior research that shows the early introduction to gambling is linked to future problems such as difficulties stopping gambling, regardless of major life difficulties linked to gambling.

"Our research suggests that family members and friends should consider the possible negative impact of giving children or adolescents lottery tickets as gifts," said Marc Potenza, professor of psychiatry, child study, and neurobiology, and senior author of the research.

Although it is legal for teens 16 and older to purchase lottery tickets in other countries, in the United States an individual must be at least 18 years of age to play the lotto.

The National Institutes of Health and Connecticut State Department of Mental Health and Addictions Services funded the research.

The study was published in the journal of Adolescent Health.