Amending Lotteries Law Could Hurt Gambling Victims’ Ability To Obtain Justice, MHA Says

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Independent MP Perry Trimper opposes a bill that would ban people from joining a class action lawsuit against the government for gambling addiction. (SRC)

A new bill before the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly could prevent residents diagnosed with a gambling addiction from pursuing a class action lawsuit, critics warn.

Bill 18, which, if passed, would amend the Lotteries Act, has so far received second reading in the Legislature.

Perry Trimper, the Independent Member of Parliament for the Lake Melville District, said the bill – due to pass third reading later this month – is flawed.

“Over a million dollars a day is spent by residents on gambling, and we are taking about a third of that amount directly into our coffers,” Trimper said in an interview with CBC Radio. Labrador morning.

“This will take away all capacity for those who have suffered in one way or another from the class action lawsuit,” Trimper said. Although individual actions can still be taken to court, Trimper said it “would be quite difficult to do so if you have suffered financially, lost your job or even lost family ties.”

The bill, if passed, “would grant immunity to the government of the province, a minister, the Atlantic Lottery Corporation” and others from any action related to “the completion of a task or the exercise of a power related to lotteries ”.

The bill will also expressly prohibit an action for damages from being brought or pursued under the Class Actions Act.

Finance Minister Siobhan Coady introduced Bill 18 earlier this year. CBC News has contacted Coady as well as Opposition Leader David Brazil, but has yet to receive a response.

Speaking to the House in October, Coady said she believed the changes would financially protect the government, which is one of ALC’s shareholders.

“If an action were to be brought and succeeded against ALS for an enormous amount, it could either force the bankruptcy of the ALS or put the shareholders in a position to pay the amount of the reward on behalf of the Atlantic Lottery. Corporation, ”Coady mentioned.

During the past fiscal year, residents of NL spent $ 373.5 million on various ALC products. Of this amount, prizes of $ 194.7 million were awarded, while $ 121.1 million was awarded as a profit to the provincial government.

Derek Montague is the former mayor of North West River. (Katie Breen / CBC)

Jordan Brown, the NDP MP for Labrador West, is also opposed to the bill.

“It is ludicrous that the government’s approach is to shield itself from the fallout from the lottery company’s predatory actions and techniques while providing no ramifications against the Atlantic Lottery Corporation for continuing to use these technologies, or against other supports for those facing addiction in this province today, ”Brown said in a statement.

The other Atlantic provinces – New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia – all have legislation in place that protects the gaming industry from class action lawsuits.

Recovering from gambling addiction

Derek Montague, the former mayor of the town of North West River in central Labrador, has suffered from a gambling addiction since 2011. He said it started after a friend died and he had started using Video Lottery Machines (VLTs) as a means of coping. .

“VLTs are the opioid of the gambling world… the government and the Atlantic Lottery Corporation have done absolutely nothing to protect people from the highly addictive nature of VLTs,” said Montague. Labrador morning.

The Atlantic Lottery Corporation donated $ 121.1 million in profits to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador in the last fiscal year. (Mike Groll / Associated Press)

He believes that all forms of gambling can be harmful to society, but video lottery machines are particularly dangerous. Every machine, he said, is “designed by nature to be as addictive as possible,” Montague said.

Montague was playing poker, but VLTs were his downfall. his biggest Achilles heel. He said the rush to win the VLTs was instantaneous which made him want to keep playing. In the end, the rush would always fade.

“You spend a lot of days trying to kill yourself and you spend a lot of days being ashamed”

Video lottery machines are the opioid of the gambling world.– Derek Montague

Montague, who now lives in Nova Scotia, said his health had improved but he was still haunted by memories of bars in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

Although he does not feel the lure of going to a casino to play poker, the lure of VLTs remains strong.

Meanwhile, regarding the possibility of Bill 18 going through the Legislature, Montague said he has a question for MPs.

“Would you act like this for another addiction?” he said.

Read more about CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


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