By David Madden

TRENTON, NJ (CBS) — State lotteries push sales during the holidays but in New Jersey, they’re adding a second message: Keep the kids out of it.

It’s illegal for anyone under 18 to buy a lottery ticket. That said, a lot of adults buy them as stocking stuffers for kids anyway.

Carole Hedinger, Executive Director of the New Jersey Lottery, kicked off a public campaign to discourage that kind of thing, although she concedes the law does allow a child to benefit from a lottery win.

“A person, for instance, could buy a lottery ticket, win and then gift that to the child, but we don’t really encourage that,” Hedinger told KYW Newsradio.

Another concern? How easy it could be to get a child hooked with something as simple as a scratch-off ticket.

“They win a few dollars. They may think, ‘Wow. This is great. You can just always buy tickets and always be a winner’,” Hedinger added. “Because they’re not adults and they don’t understand gaming or gambling and some of the pitfalls of it.”

Mind you, she admits she’s riding a fine line here. Hedinger doesn’t want to clamp down on sales, but giving a lottery ticket to a child can lead to more harm than fun down the line.

New Jersey’s lottery has received awards in recent years for its efforts to encourage people to play responsibly.

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