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Kim Dude, the director of the University of Missouri-Columbia Wellness Resource Center, recently was named the recipient of the second annual Outstanding Contributor Award presented by the Missouri Alliance to Curb Problem Gambling. Dude was recognized by the Alliance for her efforts in helping to increase awareness of problem gambling issues on all of Missouri’s public colleges and universities. She also is the founder and project director of Missouri Partners in Prevention (PIP), a partnership between all 12 of the state’s public colleges and universities.

This statewide award is presented to an individual who has demonstrated superior achievement in addressing issues of problem and pathological gambling in Missouri.

Last year, Dude successfully applied for a grant from the Port Authority of Kansas City to expand the University’s programs and PIP programs to include problem gambling awareness. In March, using grant monies, the first training seminar was held in Columbia. Wellness Resource personnel from most of the state colleges and universities were in attendance.

In addition to the PIP training, the grant money also was used to determine the extent of gambling among Missouri’s college students through the addition of a question to a health survey, and it also was used to create a brochure for college students on problem gambling.

According to Dude, the 2004 statewide health survey indicated that 49.9 percent of the college students surveyed participated in at least one gambling activity in the past year.

“I think we’ve made a good step forward in addressing problem gambling issues on our campuses,” Dude said. “We now have a baseline for gambling, and we have staff trained to identify the warning signs of problem gambling.”

Keith Spare, outgoing chairman of the Alliance, said that due to Kim’s commitment to Missouri’s college students, the state now has problem gambling awareness on every public college campus.

“This award was created to provide much-deserved recognition for our many treatment providers and other individuals working hard to promote problem gambling treatment and issues in Missouri,” Spare said. “Kim’s commitment to the health and well-being of Missouri’s students is helping to provide an awareness of problem gambling to the future leaders of our state.”

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Compulsive gambling is a behavior disorder in which an individual has an uncontrollable preoccupation and urge to gamble. This results in excessive gambling, the outcome of which is loss of time and money.

The gambling reaches the point at which it compromises, disrupts or destroys the gambler's personal life, family relationships or vocational pursuits. The key signs are emotional dependence on gambling, loss of control and interference with normal functioning.