B.C. Lottery Corporation has a policy of denying jackpot payouts to gamblers in its voluntary self-exclusion program.

BCLC must pay withheld jackpots to some banned gamblers

B.C. Supreme Court ruling on denied prize payouts at B.C. casinos limited to 14-month period

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has ruled some problem gamblers who had themselves banned from B.C. casinos but managed to keep playing are owed jackpots that were withheld by the B.C. Lottery Corp.

The ruling in the class action lawsuit applies only to jackpots over $10,000 that were won but not paid out between April 2009 and June 2010, because jackpot entitlement rules were not validly enacted during that period.

Justice John Savage ruled the BCLC had “no authority to withhold jackpot prizes” at that time.

The rules were clarified in 2010 when the province amended its Gaming Control Act, and self-excluded gamblers who were refused big payouts after that are out of luck.

The case was led by two problem gamblers on behalf of numerous others who enrolled in the voluntary self-exclusion program yet still lost large amounts at casinos.

Hamidreza Haghdust was denied jackpots totaling $35,000 at casinos in Coquitlam and Vancouver and Michael Lee was refused a payout of more than $42,000 at a community gaming centre in Duncan.

The plaintiffs argued the large prizes should not have been confiscated because BCLC failed to keep them out of the casinos under the self-exclusion program and was therefore in breach of contract.

The judge did find BCLC was in breach of contract, noting that although Haghdust and Lee knew they were breaking the rules by re-entering casinos to gamble while banned, the lottery corporation was not blameless.

“BCLC is a large quasi-corporate entity with a total monopoly over the provision of the very thing with which the plaintiff class struggle,” the judgment says. “Gamblers are ferried to its facilities and receive loyalty rewards. BCLC is undoubtedly in a more powerful position.”

BCLC said in a statement it will work with lawyers for the plaintiffs to return jackpots to those who are eligible.

“Overall, the decision validates BCLC’s ability to withhold jackpots as a deterrent for those who are voluntary self-excluded and that the program is being operated effectively,” the Crown corporation said.

It’s not known how many gamblers may now be paid their five-year-old winnings.

Lawyers behind the case initially said they were trying to recoup 427 jackpots worth total of up to $1.5 million, but only some of those prizes were withheld during the initial 14 months after the BCLC introduced its denial of winnings policy in 2009.

While Haghdust was denied big jackpots when he managed to re-enter casinos, he also incurred $200,000 in losses since entering the self-exclusion program in 2006.

More than 8,400 B.C. residents are enrolled in the voluntary self-exclusion program and participants are denied entry or removed from casinos about 700 times each month.

An earlier court ruling found BCLC did not owe damages to a North Delta woman who entered casinos in Surrey and Langley while excluded and lost $78,000.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria Fire Department investigating explosion at supportive housing complex

The explosion blew out a window and caused damage to the frame of the building

Victoria to consider new appeals process for rejected short-term rental applications

There is not an established process in place for people seeking to reapply

Vehicle bursts into flames due to mechanical failure, occupants escape injury

View Royal firefighters were on scene less than five minutes after the first 911 call

West Shore RCMP snag suspect in early morning mail theft

Citizen call leads officers to quickly locate suspect

Current Taxi offers free rides for healthcare workers to or from hospitals

Rides must stay within 20 km of Victoria General or Royal Jubilee Hospital

B.C. wide burning restrictions come into effect April 16

‘Larger open burns pose an unnecessary risk and could detract from wildfire detection’

B.C. secures motel, hotel rooms for COVID-19 shelter space

Community centres, rooms reserved for pandemic self-isolation

Look at hospitalizations, not recovery stats for COVID-19, B.C. professor says

Cases in hospital are a definitive count of people who have the novel coronavirus

B.C. First Nations want to launch fight of Trans Mountain pipeline approval

Last month, the Supreme Court of Canada decided not to hear five challenges about the pipeline

N95 masks on the way for Canada after 3M reaches deal with White House

The Trump White House had ordered 3M to stop shipping masks to Canada

COLUMN: The other graph that shows B.C. can beat COVID-19

Is the curve being flattened? data on hospitalizations provides a crucial answer.

B.C. clears more acute hospital beds as COVID-19 case growth slows

Province holding about 40% of beds empty for peak still to come

75-year-old woman rescued from Cowichan Lake

Victim taken to hospital, but expected to recover

Most Read