CHARLESTON, Ill. (WCIA) — A Central Illinois counseling center is joining a nationwide effort to stop teenagers from becoming addicted to gambling.

The Illinois Hour House in Charleston joined the “Gift Responsibly” campaign. The initiative was set up by the National Counsel of Problem Gambling. It focuses on the risks teenagers and children face who are exposed to gambling at an early age. 

Coordinator Melissa Parker said a simple stocking-stuffer could send the wrong message.

“I think bringing awareness to this, especially to children, is very important. I do know that the younger adults tend to get gifts from adults that are like lottery tickets or scratch-offs, thinking it’s a fun thing. But it could lead to something more in the future.”

She said studies show early exposure can lead to struggles with gambling down the road.