Authorities in Canada are warning adults not to give lottery tickets to children this Christmas following the release of a study that found a large proportion of the tickets are currently being given to minors.

Tickets for the numerous Canadian provincial lotteries are relatively cheap and offer the opportunity to win large amounts of money. According to a study published by Montreal's McGill University, lottery tickets have become a favourite stocking filler at Christmas with up to 30 percent of the tickets purchased given to under-18s.

This survey prompted Loto-Quebec, Atlantic Lottery Corp and Ontario Lottery And Gaming Corp to urge parents to avoid giving their children lottery tickets as Christmas presents through an awareness campaign.

‘Lottery tickets are for adults, not kids,’ said Don Pister, Spokesperson for Ontario Lottery And Gaming, which runs the province's lottery.

‘There are a lot of things we restrict to certain ages in our society and this is one of them.’

Gambling experts have cautioned that introducing youth to gambling at too early an age can have serious implications.

‘Lottery tickets are inexpensive and they make good stocking stuffers but for kids they really give the wrong message and they can create potential problems,’ said Alissa Sklar, Senior Researcher with McGill’s International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems And High-Risk Behaviours.

‘It’s really important for parents, grandparents and care-givers to realise that lottery tickets, scratch cards and other lottery products are inappropriate gifts for those who are 18 and under.’