It is not very often that parents encourage their children to buy lottery tickets, but officials with the New Jersey Lottery have joined the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey to kick off the annual "Not 18 Yet? No Bet" Awareness campaign.

The NJ Lottery is taking steps to prevent underage gambling in New Jersey. (Anne Kitzman, ThinkStock)

The purpose of the initiative is to remind residents and retailers that the law in the Garden State prohibits the sale of lottery tickets by or to anyone under the age of 18.

"What we try to do is encourage parents not to involve their children in a gambling activity.  Practices that start in adolescence that are risky, which would include gambling, can lead to problems in adulthood. According to research, the later a person starts engaging in adult activities, the less likely they are to have trouble with those activities," said Carole Hedinger, executive director of the New Jersey Lottery.

The campaign is held each year to coincide with the American Gaming Association's Responsible Gaming Education Week, which started Monday and continues through Aug. 7. As part of the effort, the New Jersey Lottery has developed a brochure aimed at retailers and players that offers information about the major types of teen betting as well as ways to recognize early signs of a gambling problem. It also tells those in need where to go for advice and help.

"Right now, the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey is in the midst of a major expansion of its community and school-based outreach programs. One of our focuses this year will be on preventing the onset of gambling addiction among adolescents and young adults, so the New Jersey Lottery's message and support is particularly timely," said Neva Pryor, executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, Inc. "The Lottery continues to be a great partner in promoting the importance of responsible gambling and in publicizing the 1-800-GAMBLER® number. If a parent thinks their child might have a gambling problem, they can call that number for advice and help."