TRURO - Mario Martin now knows there are ways to gamble responsibly, but he still thinks video lottery terminals, or VLTs, should be removed.
"I only gambled once in a while - I've purchased a scratch ticket here or there, but that's about it," said the Truro man, who stopped to chat with Fellowship of Fun's Adam Ritchie and Annie Walsh at the Truro Mall on Friday.
"I had a family member that gambled a lot and got into financial trouble. I didn't help him, but I know his wife said she would leave if it didn't stop. I've heard he's not (gambling) anymore."
By talking to Ritchie and Walsh, who are taking messages of responsible gambling on the road to various places in the province, Martin learned about the My-Play card that's in place.
"I think it will make people think twice about how much they are gambling before they load the card and go back (to gamble)," said Martin.
Walsh said the My-Play System allows someone to set their own limits for gambling, such as how much they want to spend.
"It's a great gambling awareness tool," she said.
"It takes more of an effort for someone to reload that card instead of just putting more cash into a machine, so it gives them more time to think about what they're doing," Ritchie explained to Martin.
The duo also talked to Martin about a concept regarding one's left and right pockets.
"When you're going to go gambling, you keep your base money in your right pocket and put anything you win in your left and you gamble with that," Ritchie said.
Having been to Cape Breton and the Maritime Fall Fair before stopping in Truro, Walsh said they've already had someone approach them that admitted to gambling a lot.
"We just give them awareness on the fact that there are ways to gamble responsibly," she said.
According to a fact sheet published in September this year by the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation, the Canadian Problem Gambling Index has stated 0.9 per cent of the adult population in Nova Scotia, or around 7,000 people, have a gambling problem or are defined as a problem gambler. An additional 1.6 per cent, or 12,000, are considered at moderate risk of experiencing a problem with gambling.
Before chatting to anyone about responsible gambling, Ritchie and Walsh engage the passerby with some free bug spray, sunscreen, or even a fun game of washer toss (washers substituted for beanbags).
"We're getting them engaged before we bring up the issue of responsible gambling. It is a hidden issue and some people don't like to talk about it," Ritchie said.
Martin appreciated the pair's approach to have the public learn about responsible gambling.
"We know it's a bad habit for so many people," he said.
The Fellowship of Fun is making its way to Kentville, Shelburne and Bridgewater tomorrow to finish off the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation's Responsible Gambling Awareness Week. For more information, visit www.yourbestbet.ca.