The Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation is reminding parents in the province to refrain from stuffing minors’ stockings with scratch ’n’ win and lottery tickets this Christmas.

A study released Tuesday by the International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High Risk Behaviours at McGill University shows many parents do not recognize lottery tickets as gambling, and are likely unaware of the direct correlation between youth gambling and problem gambling later in life.

Marie Mullally, NSGC president and CEO, said her organization is partnering with the International Centre and other gaming groups to raise awareness about the effect of giving lottery tickets to minors.

“It’s important for parents to set the example by showing their kids that gambling is only meant for adults,” said Mullally in a release Thursday. “Lottery and scratch ’n’ win tickets may seem innocent enough, but it is a form of gambling and our message is that youth should not be gambling.”

The report found that 19 per cent of high school students receive one or more lottery or scratch tickets as gifts, with 86 per cent of those coming from a family member.

Robyn McIsaac, vice-president of public affairs and prevention programming at the NSGC, said the effects of gambling at a young age could be long-lasting.

“Problem gamblers have indicated that they have started gambling as early as 10 years old,” said McIsaac. “It can start easy and with what may seem as innocent as giving a lottery ticket as a gift.”

The report — commissioned by an array of organizations interested in gambling behaviour, including the NSGC — had a three per cent margin of error or 19 out of 20. The results were gathered from an online survey of about 2,700 Canadian parents.

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