Gambler denied jackpot suing B.C. Lottery Corporation
Published Wednesday, July 28, 2010 8:43AM EDT
Michael Lee was over the moon when he won a $42,500 jackpot on a slot machine at a British Columbia casino last January. But the B.C Lottery Corporation is refusing to pay him his winnings, because Lee had asked to be banned from casinos.
Lee, of Victoria, had joined the BCLC's Voluntary Self-Exclusion Program in 2007, asking that he not be allowed to play at area casinos. But he gambled anyway -- and won -- many times after he signed on to the program.
With the BCLC denying him his winnings, Lee is now suing.
Joshua Weiszner, Lee's lawyer, says the Chances casino in Duncan must have known Lee was in the casino because he had to show identification to collect his winnings.
"He won amounts over $250 on a few occasions and he provided his ID to the casino. And even after he provided his ID, he was given his cash prize and not asked to leave," Weiszner told CTV's Canada AM from Vancouver Wednesday.
"One of the terms of the agreement that he signed is that if the casino identifies him, they must ask him to leave. That is the essence of the agreement he signed. And that was breached."
Weiszner said Lee signed up for the self-exclusion program because he had a young family and wanted to keep his gambling under control.
"My client asserts he is not a gambling addict. However, he does have gambling tendencies which caught up with him at certain points during the agreement," he explained.
He says in his mind, the case is not about why Lee continued to go into a casino even after he asked to be barred from them, it's about why the B.C. Lottery Corporation has a program that it doesn't appear to enforce.
"If the B.C. Lottery Corporation is going to have a program and allow people who are part of this self-exclusion program to gamble away their money and only provide so-called assistance when they win a jackpot, that doesn't seem like much assistance at all," Weiszner said.
The B.C. Lottery Corporation noted that it brought in rules in 2009 that specifically state that anyone who has signed on to the self-exclusion program would have to forfeit any winnings they made while under the program.
But Weiszner notes that when Lee signed on to the program in 2007, there were no such rules in the agreement.
"That rule came into effect some two years after he signed his agreement. He was never notified of the change. They had his address. They could have mailed him some notice of the new rules," Weiszner said.
"My understanding is there was a sign posted in the casino when your walked in -- that's what I‘ve heard form the B.C. Lottery Corporation. But my client alleges that he did not see that sign."
This is the second lawsuit announced this month that takes BCLC to task over lax enforcement of its self-exclusion program.
A week ago, Joy Ross of Langley filed suit against BCLC for more than $300,000 -- the amount she says she lost at B.C. casinos while she was part of the self-exclusion program.