A new resource is available for players at Williams Lake’s Chances Signal Point.
Peter McDonald, B.C. Lottery Commission regional team leader for player health, said Troy Nicolson will be Signal Point’s new GameSense advisor, there to help players make informed choices about gambling and connect them to available support resources if they feel they need help.
“The program started back in 2009,” McDonald said.
“It was in all the larger casinos who provided information about responsible gambling and how things work and also providing supports if people ran into problems with their gambling. It’s been so successful that it was decided to expand it across the province to every gaming casino.”
Since being introduced in B.C., GameSense advisors have had approximately 55,000 interactions with players in casinos across the province.
By this fall there will be about 45 GameSense advisors across the province, McDonald said, adding it depends on the site as to how many hours they work.
It can range between 20 to 40 hours a week.
“Troy will be working about 25 hours a week,” he said.
GameSense is also used in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Massachusetts and all MGM property across North America, including in Vegas.”
The program, he said, has won international awards from the World Lottery Association and is expanding into more states and into Europe.
When asked how the health of people visiting gaming centres is overall, McDonald said problem gambling impacts about 3.4 per cent of the general population, which is down from 4.6 per cent when he first started working for the B.C. Lottery Commission.
“The majority people are just having fun and view it as a form of entertainment,” he added.
“That’s the fun part of the job, teaching players how things work, and it is also about teaching them how to set limits.”
Slot machines are random, McDonald said.
“They have random numbers generated in them so every spin is independent so a lot of people will sit there for hours, thinking they are going to win, but it is so random that you could win five jackpots in five minutes but you might not win one for five years.”
Gambling is meant to provide an evening out of entertainment, not meant to win a mortgage payment or pay bills, he said, noting there is also free counselling across the province, a 24-hour helpline and support workers in communities, funded by the provincial government under the Attorney General’s office.