Andrica Wilcoxen believes that many retail store clerks don’t know they could be charged with a felony for selling a lottery ticket to a juvenile.
To remedy that, she and the Northeast Kansas Problem Gambling Task Force members plan to visit each retail store that sells lottery tickets in Wyandotte County during February. They will give them a letter from the district attorney, as well as more information about the subject, and a poster, she said.
It’s the first phase of a new project by the task force to address juvenile gambling, she said.
Wilcoxen, the outreach and prevention coordinator at Kansas City Kansas Community College and a member of the task force, said there are plans to visit about 100 lottery retailers in Wyandotte County. While the Kansas Lottery trains new retailers about the laws pertaining to selling lottery tickets to minors, there are likely some new clerks who work at the existing lottery retail outlets who may not know about the rules, Wilcoxen said.
“We’re going to be a pilot group and be a model for our state and other states, to keep our youth safe and teach them responsibility before buying tickets,” she said.
The task force doesn’t take a position for or against gambling, it just wants youth to be educated about gambling and its risks, she said.
“We can educate our clerks and retailers not to sell to juveniles, for their safety, and help keep them safe until they’re mentally and emotionally ready and educated, to purchase lottery tickets,” Wilcoxen said.
If a clerk sells a lottery ticket to a minor, it’s a felony that the clerk could be charged with, she said. But unlike alcohol sales, there is no penalty to a minor who purchases a lottery ticket.
If the youth wins under $600 from a lottery ticket, it’s legal in Kansas for the youth to cash it in, she said. A win generally encourages people to gamble again, and that could lead to an addiction, she believes. An addiction may lead to other problems, such as stealing money to buy lottery tickets or owing money to bullies, she believes.
Wilcoxen said she wants youth to know the risks before they start.
“We want to make sure that before we give our youths the keys of the car, we train them how to be responsible,” she said. “If we don’t teach them, and don’t train them, they’re not going to know any better and are going to make lots of mistakes before they get to be an adult.”
The task force is preparing to reach youth during February through a rap spoken word contest, open to persons ages 12 to 18 years old. The contest runs Feb. 1 to 28.
Youth may submit a 25-second rap or spoken piece about their personal experience with gambling problems, how it affected them personally, or a solution, and how people can educate others about the dangers of gambling. The entries may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. The entries may be in mp3 or any media format, and the entries must be rap or spoken.
Prizes of $500 for first place, $300 for second place, and $100 for third place will be awarded, she said.
Wilcoxen said a panel of judges will decide the winners. There may be a battle for the top 10 selections, at a public event, and also, the top three may be aired on a local radio station, she added.
“We want to start educating the people in our community younger, and the idea is if our young people can see what the dangers are, before they get to that place of addiction, it will help them not to go there,” she said. “We’re not for or against gambling, but about being responsible.”
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