January 10, 2013 : CANADIAN GAMBLING CLASS ACTION COULD SET AN INTERESTING PRECEDENT
Self-exclusioners given permission to launch class action against BCLC
If a gambler self-excludes at a gambling venue, then manages to fool the system and returns to win big, should he or she be paid out?
That's one of the interesting questions that could emerge from a class action application by two Canadian gamblers which was approved Wednesday for trial by British Columbia Supreme Court Justice John Savage, according to a report in the Vancouver Sun.
Gamblers Hamidreza Haghdust and Michael Lee intend to launch class action litigation against the British Columbia Lottery Commission, claiming were denied their slot machine jackpots totalling Cdn$ 77,000 because they had signed voluntary self-exclusion agreements.
The BCLC says that its Voluntary Self-Exclusion (VSE) program specifies that if self-excluded gamblers still manage to play, no winnings will be paid out.
The duo spent about Cdn$200,000 and Cdn$30,000, respectively, going after the jackpots, and claim that the BCLC refusal to pay up is “unconscionable and a breach of contract.”
Justice Savage has not taken a position on either side, simply ruling that the class action should proceed and noting:
“The claims of the class members raise common issues that could usefully be resolved in the format of a class proceeding. The class definition is appropriate and includes only those who have a common interest in determining whether the defendant’s withholding of Jackpot prizes was a breach of contract or an unconscionable trade act or practice.”
Lawyers for the duo have said there are many more people in a similar situation as their two clients, having signed agreements under BCLC’s VSE Program, but have entered casinos and spent large amounts of cash only to be deprived of subsequent prizes.
A trial date has yet to be set.