Illinois Lottery officials want to keep instant tickets away from minors this holiday season.

Instant lottery tickets are easy and popular holiday gifts. However, officials are reminding consumers that giving lottery tickets to minors is not only a bad idea, but it is also against the law.

Illinois Lottery spokesman Jason Schaumburg said many lottery players know that only people 18 and older can buy lottery tickets. What people might not know is that Illinois law prohibits gifting lottery tickets to anyone younger than 18.

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"We are trying to remind people this holiday season to gift responsibly and make sure you are following the law when it comes to the Illinois Lottery and its tickets,” Schaumburg said.

The Illinois Lottery said keeping lottery tickets out of the hands of minors is important. Lottery officials said gambling issues later in life can develop from early exposure to gambling. The agency said some people report that their first gambling experiences occur when they were around 9 to 11 years old.

Illinois law forbids anyone younger than 18 to buy a lottery ticket. It also prohibits the sale, distribution or gift of a lottery ticket to anyone younger than 18. Minors also can't collect a lottery prize.

Most violations of the Illinois lottery law are a Class B misdemeanor for a first offense. Subsequent violations could result in more serious charges.

Harold Mays, the acting director of the Illinois Lottery, said in a statement that the Illinois Lottery wants to encourage responsible holiday gift-giving.

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