Tulalip Problem Gambling Program sheds light on silent disease

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Large sidewalk signs were placed all along the uphill road leading to the Tulalip Administration Building on the morning of March 12. Each sign advertised an event that took place that afternoon known as Positive Action Screening Day, which is part of a national campaign to bring attention to gambling addiction. 

Every March, the Tulalip Problem Gambling Program takes part in an initiative known as National Problem Gambling Awareness Month by educating the community about the dangers of the silent disease that affects millions nationwide.

Said Tulalip Problem Gambling Program Coordinator, Sarah Sense Wilson, “I think it’s especially important in Indian Country that we shine a spotlight on Problem Gambling Awareness Month, given that a lot of our tribal communities have high risk factors and vulnerabilities. The more that we’re informed, the more we can make good decisions for ourselves.” 

The Problem Gambling Program helps people recover from gambling addiction by creating a personalized plan with each individual who walks through their doors seeking help, both Natives and non-Natives. By increasing their visibility within the Tulalip community and sharing information and resources with those in need, the Tulalip Problem Gambling Program is able to reach more people who are struggling by creating a safe, non-confrontational, and judgement-free space during their community events throughout the awareness month. 

“The screening day is another national campaign and it’s a non-invasive way for people to do a quick screen, for people to self-determine where they’re at with their relationship to gambling – is it healthy, is it not healthy, could it be better? It’s four questions and only three of them are related to gambling,” Sarah explained. 

As soon as the clock struck noon on Positive Action Screening Day, dozens of tribal government employees swarmed to the first-floor lobby to help show their support during National Problem Gambling Awareness Month. In exchange for their participation in a short four-question survey, the people received a gift of their choosing – between either a bag of Jared’s CORNer’s kettle corn, a tin of healing salve, or a mini-smudge kit. And after receiving their gift, many people stayed behind to peruse the resource tables and learn a little bit more about gambling addiction. 

The next Problem Gambling Awareness Month event will be held on Sunday, March 24, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Tulalip Resort Casino and is open to the entire community. The always popular and much anticipated dinner celebration offers the promise of good food, good entertainment, and eye-opening testimonies from local gambling addicts in recovery. The playbill includes the 206 singers, a blessing from Tribal member Natosha Gobin, and the keynote speaker is set to be Lakota/Navajo Actor and Comedian, Tatanka Means. And the MC for the evening will be Kasey ‘Rezzalicious’ Nicholson, Native Comedian and member of the A’aa’niii’nin Nation. 

“The dinner is held to raise awareness and provide a space for education about the addiction and about prevention, but it’s also to celebrate those in recovery,” said Sarah. “We want to lift them up and have them be in a space where they’re cared for, celebrated, cheered-on, and honored for their work, and also for their contributions to the recovery community. Every person in recovery is contributing to the wellness to the whole, and that’s powerful.”

If you or someone you love is dealing with a gambling addiction, or if you would like to find out more information about the Problem Gambling program, please contact (360) 716-4304.