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Woman sues B.C. Lottery Corp. for allowing her to keep gambling

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Casinos accused of negligence, breach of contract

By Jennifer Saltman, The Province October 3, 2012

It took many years and many failed tries before Joyce May Ross finally beat her gambling addiction.

She had borrowed money from everyone she knew, lied to friends and family, maxed out her credit cards, spent almost every penny of disposable income gambling and pulled countless all-nighters at casinos.

"My gambling was out of control, totally out of control," Ross testified during a trial Tuesday in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. "I couldn't stop gambling."

The 56-year-old is suing the B.C. Lottery Corp., Orangeville Raceway Ltd. (Fraser Downs Racetrack and Casino in Langley) and Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Inc. (Cascades Casino in Langley) for negligence and breach of contract, alleging that they failed to stop her from entering and spending $331,000 in their facilities.

Ross tried a number of methods to curb her gambling, one of them being the voluntary self-exclusion program. A gambler can sign up to exclude him or herself from all gaming facilities in B.C. for a period ranging from six months to three years. The person's photo and information are circulated and if identified in a casino, the gambler will be asked to leave and possibly fined up to $5,000. Excluded gamblers can't win jackpots.

However, Ross claims the program doesn't work. She signed up in June 2007 but was allowed to gamble for three more years before she quit on her own.

During that time, according to a notice of civil claim filed in July 2010, "various staff members at both Fraser Downs Casino and Cascades Casino are known to the plaintiff and witnessed on countless occasions her post self-exclusion gambling activities, apparently with full knowledge of her self-exclusion and without taking any steps to enforce the self-exclusion."

Ross testified Tuesday that she even called B.C. Lottery Corp. one day in March 2008 to ask that her picture be recirculated.

Ross said if someone had come up to her while she was playing and identified her as being self-excluded, "I'd have been embarrassed to death and I would have left. And I probably wouldn't have gone back in."

Her "aha" moment came at Starlight Casino in New West just over two years ago. Ross had just lost more money and asked herself: "Why am I still gambling when I am so far away from who I am?"

On July 12, 2010, she brought photos of herself to Fraser Downs, Cascades and Starlight and passed them around, telling staff she wasn't supposed to gamble. She hasn't gambled since.

Ross said outside court that it was difficult to testify about her addiction and she cried a number of times.

"It takes you back into the feelings of the addiction and I'm working so hard to move away from that kind of behaviour and those feelings that come with being addicted," she said.

Her goal in filing the lawsuit was to help others who are heading down the same road she was on. Ross said money is not the issue for her.

"I just really want the government to recognize how bad the problem is — and it's people, not statistics."

Ross's lawyer, Jim Hanson, said the case is the first of its kind to go to trial in Canada. At issue is compliance with the rules and regulations of the self-exclusion program.

The lottery corporation, Orangeville and Gateway have filed statements of defence denying Ross's allegations.

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WOW! 330,000 grand in 3 years. Not sure if she has a case, but it could create a dangerous precedent I think.

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Feel sorry for her and her addiction but...

PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY

I hope what comes out of this is beefed up compliance/enforcement for the exclusion program... but I hope she doesn't get a damn cent.

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Well if the casinos were required to refuse her access to gaming after she signed up for their service, but still let her keep gambling, you think she would have a case.

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Wasn't there another story just like this?

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Well if the casinos were required to refuse her access to gaming after she signed up for their service, but still let her keep gambling, you think she would have a case.

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Wasn't there another story just like this?

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Wasn't there another story just like this?

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They're trying a class action lawsuit like this in Ontario that keeps getting shot down.

I am very familiar with both sides of the Self-Exclusion process and this woman signed waivers regarding her not being able to stay away and continuing to gamble.

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They're trying a class action lawsuit like this in Ontario that keeps getting shot down.

I am very familiar with both sides of the Self-Exclusion process and this woman signed waivers regarding her not being able to stay away and continuing to gamble.

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Don't think she has much of a case.

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Its fun when you dont have to take responsibility for your own actions. Everything is someone elses fault. And then later you can blame it on the addiction itself. "the addiction got so out of hand" No, YOU got so out of hand.

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Lets put it this way, she has nothing to lose and all to gain. If she wins , she will win money, not sure how much. If hse loses shes still a broke ass. Actually if she wins, she will gamble it all away, be a broke ass, and spend it all again. It's worth a try, but a pathetic attempt.

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During that time, according to a notice of civil claim filed in July 2010, "various staff members at both Fraser Downs Casino and Cascades Casino are known to the plaintiff and witnessed on countless occasions her post self-exclusion gambling activities, apparently with full knowledge of her self-exclusion and without taking any steps to enforce the self-exclusion."

If this is proven true then she has a case and should be awarded some money back. Its easy to talk about self control when you aren't the one who is addicted. These billion dollar casinos rip people off for a living, and like the smoking company, they benefit greatly off of peoples addictions. Give this lady some money back so she can live a somewhat decent life again and hopefully she will have learned her lesson.

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How is it their fault?

She knew she was in this program. She knew even if she did win she couldn't keep the money.

Good on her for trying to curb her addiction, but she shouldn't be blaming other people for her failure to do so.

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During that time, according to a notice of civil claim filed in July 2010, "various staff members at both Fraser Downs Casino and Cascades Casino are known to the plaintiff and witnessed on countless occasions her post self-exclusion gambling activities, apparently with full knowledge of her self-exclusion and without taking any steps to enforce the self-exclusion."

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That's like suing Molson Canadian for getting you into a DUI incident.

Stupid... clearly she missed the "Know your limit, play within it" slogan.

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That's like suing Molson Canadian for getting you into a DUI incident.

Stupid... clearly she missed the "Know your limit, play within it" slogan.

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Casinos accused of negligence, breach of contract

By Jennifer Saltman, The Province October 3, 2012

It took many years and many failed tries before Joyce May Ross finally beat her gambling addiction.

She had borrowed money from everyone she knew, lied to friends and family, maxed out her credit cards, spent almost every penny of disposable income gambling and pulled countless all-nighters at casinos.

"My gambling was out of control, totally out of control," Ross testified during a trial Tuesday in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. "I couldn't stop gambling."

The 56-year-old is suing the B.C. Lottery Corp., Orangeville Raceway Ltd. (Fraser Downs Racetrack and Casino in Langley) and Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Inc. (Cascades Casino in Langley) for negligence and breach of contract, alleging that they failed to stop her from entering and spending $331,000 in their facilities.

Ross tried a number of methods to curb her gambling, one of them being the voluntary self-exclusion program. A gambler can sign up to exclude him or herself from all gaming facilities in B.C. for a period ranging from six months to three years. The person's photo and information are circulated and if identified in a casino, the gambler will be asked to leave and possibly fined up to $5,000. Excluded gamblers can't win jackpots.

However, Ross claims the program doesn't work. She signed up in June 2007 but was allowed to gamble for three more years before she quit on her own.

During that time, according to a notice of civil claim filed in July 2010, "various staff members at both Fraser Downs Casino and Cascades Casino are known to the plaintiff and witnessed on countless occasions her post self-exclusion gambling activities, apparently with full knowledge of her self-exclusion and without taking any steps to enforce the self-exclusion."

Ross testified Tuesday that she even called B.C. Lottery Corp. one day in March 2008 to ask that her picture be recirculated.

Ross said if someone had come up to her while she was playing and identified her as being self-excluded, "I'd have been embarrassed to death and I would have left. And I probably wouldn't have gone back in."

Her "aha" moment came at Starlight Casino in New West just over two years ago. Ross had just lost more money and asked herself: "Why am I still gambling when I am so far away from who I am?"

On July 12, 2010, she brought photos of herself to Fraser Downs, Cascades and Starlight and passed them around, telling staff she wasn't supposed to gamble. She hasn't gambled since.

Ross said outside court that it was difficult to testify about her addiction and she cried a number of times.

"It takes you back into the feelings of the addiction and I'm working so hard to move away from that kind of behaviour and those feelings that come with being addicted," she said.

Her goal in filing the lawsuit was to help others who are heading down the same road she was on. Ross said money is not the issue for her.

"I just really want the government to recognize how bad the problem is — and it's people, not statistics."

Ross's lawyer, Jim Hanson, said the case is the first of its kind to go to trial in Canada. At issue is compliance with the rules and regulations of the self-exclusion program.

The lottery corporation, Orangeville and Gateway have filed statements of defence denying Ross's allegations.

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