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

‘Each step is a prayer’: Ojibwe man will walk from Hope to Vancouver Island for Indigenous healing, reconciliation

James Taylor departs Sept. 20, returns to Saanich in five days for sacred fire

COLUMN: We don’t need an election. But it’s 2020, so we’ll probably get one anyways.

There are only selfish reasons for the NDP to trigger an election this fall

Say ‘Hi’ to the mountains (and rain): The smoke is gone from the Fraser Valley, for now

Saturday’s Fraser Valley air quality forecast at ‘moderate risk,’ but morning showers leave skies clear

Chilliwack Agriculture Tour goes virtual during pandemic

Rather than bus tourists to local farms, tour stops will be posted on Facebook and Instagram

City of Chilliwack holding annual Hazardous Waste Day in early October

The one-day event is a chance to get rid of household things like pesticides and paint cans

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Air quality advisory ends for the Lower Mainland

It had been in effect since Sept. 8

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

Most Read