Gambling awareness is part of Staying Alive trade show

With a struggling economy that is teetering on the edge of another recession, many may find that their wallets are anorexic.

With a struggling economy that is teetering on the edge of another recession, many may find that their wallets are anorexic.

Yet some who do happen to have a few notes bearing the face of Queen Elizabeth II still manage to treat their purse like a bulimic.

It seems irrational to do anything but save one’s silver coins in the current climate; however, gambling is a problem that affects many people’s lives and overall health.

For that reason, a booth about gambling awareness was part of the Staying Alive trade show at the Coast Capri Hotel on Saturday.

It seemed to stand out slightly among exhibits featuring information on physical health. But it definitely belonged.

Excessive gambling is a problem that harms your family, energy, money and time, said Dwayne Nittel, a prevention specialist who provides gambling awareness and education presentations to people in the Okanagan and surrounding communities.

Nittel makes his presentations available for schools, post-secondary institutions, agencies and events. The information is provided free of charge as a public service funded by the Province of B.C.

“We’re trying to develop public awareness in terms of gambling. If people choose to play— play safely. If they find that they’re perhaps exceeding their limits, that help is available,” said Nittel.

Sitting on a table to Nittel’s right rested a large wheel that was divided into four quadrants: Family, energy, money and time. Nittel invited guests of the trade show to give the wheel a spin and then answer a question relating to the quadrant that was selected by the wheel.

“It’s called the wheel of misfortune. In one way or another, these are the areas that are affected by people that gamble. If people are aware of these four areas, that’s good. If any of them are neglected, then perhaps it’s time to get some help.”

Nittel gave a question from the money category as an example: True or false, when gambling, a near miss means a win is close?

“It’s totally false, because it’s all random,” he answered.

According to Nittel, a big part of the gambling battle is admitting that there is a problem in the first place.

“I think that’s the way it is with most people. Everyone has something that they need to work on, whether it’s weight loss, fitness or whatever. I think (it’s important to) develop that awareness.”

Nittel said that help is available, all the time, for people who need it. He also mentioned that counseling services are available free of charge in B.C.

“There’s a problem gambling help line, which is manned by someone 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. If a person has a problem themselves, they can call, or someone in their family (can call) and they’ll give tips and strategies how to help people.”

The problem gambling help line is 1-888-795-6111.