The New Jersey Lottery has teamed up once again with The Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey to launch its annual "Not 18 Yet? No Bet!" awareness campaign that lasts from now until the end of September.

The idea of the campaign is to raise awareness about the law in New Jersey that prohibits anyone under 18 years old from buying or selling a lottery ticket, said James Carey, acting executive director of The New Jersey Lottery.

He said a recent national study estimated that nearly 70% of Americans ages 14 to 19 gambled in the past year and they bet money on sports, poker, the lottery and a variety of other games. So the New Jersey Lottery has worked with The Council on Compulsive Gambling on this issue. They do training, advertising and assist retailers to help prevent underage gambling.

Retailers are given remote devices that connect to lottery vending machines which enables machines to be shut down if a child is observed attempting to purchase a ticket.

During the campaign, there are a variety of advertising materials and brochures that are passed out and available to retailers. The New Jersey Lottery website, njlottery.com, always has the messaging up called "Not 18 Yet? No Bet!". Retailers are also given materials to help customers and residents identify problem gambling, added Carey.

If a store is caught selling or attempting to sell a child a lottery ticket, consequences include civil penalties and fines of $100 to $5,000. The New Jersey Lottery also has the right to revoke a store's license to sell lottery tickets.

Carey also said it is never a good idea for parents to buy lottery tickets for their underage kids. Giving lottery tickets to kids encourages lottery play as an activity for their participation.

"Children just are not old enough and mature enough to understand how to gamble responsibly," said Carey.

Teenagers and young people gamble for the same reasons adults do. They want to have fun and win money. But Carey said the difference is adolescents are less mature and less able to gamble responsibly. Adolescents are also more likely than adults to see socializing with friends as a reason to gamble.

"Risky and exciting activities often attract teenagers," he said.

The month-long campaign is being launched now during back to school season because Carey said this is a time when kids have a little bit more money and are more likely to frequent convenience stores.

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call 1-800-GAMBLER.

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