Most drivers do what they can to avoid traffic. Not Maurice Denequolo, 65, of Toms River, Ocean County.
“We have to get in traffic. That’s our job: find the traffic,” said Denequolo, who drives a billboard truck for New York-based Billboards2Go.
The company usually advertises for retail outfits — car dealerships, grocery stores — but today, Denequolo is coursing the streets for a different sort of client, one that’s interested in having people keep their money, not spend it.
On Sunday, he was driving around Atlantic City with a billboard for the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, which runs 1-800-GAMBLER, a hotline where people with gambling problems can find help.
“I’ll just drive Atlantic and Pacific Avenue, and you see people looking, and they’re pointing,” he said.
He said the reactions he sees are positive. He said that during an earlier trip in Long Branch, in Monmouth County, a woman approached the truck and told him, “‘Bring that truck to my house and park it.’”
“I guess her husband is a gambler,” he said.
Andrew Miller, vice president of Billboards2Go, knows what it’s like to have a loved one with a gambling problem.
“My family member had this problem,” Miller said. “He lost his business. He lost his house. He lost his wife.
“And he lost his dog, because she took the dog with her,” he said.
Miller said his personal connection to the issue motivated him to reach out to the council and donate much of his services. The first 1-800-GAMBLER mobile billboard hit the road around February. Since then, he has spent “hundreds and hundreds of hours out on the street,” he said.
Miller wants to see the message take flight, too. “I want to be able to put 800-GAMBLER on a blimp and fly it over the beaches of Atlantic City,” he said.
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