We feel badly for people who have gambling addictions. But we absolutely don’t think it should give them the right to sue casinos when they lose big because of their illness.
The B.C. Supreme Court got it right last week when it found against self-identified problem gambler Joy Ross in her suit against the B.C. Lottery Corporation and two casinos.
Ross holds them to blame for gambling away $330,000. She claims they should have stopped her because she signed up for the voluntary exclusion program.
Under the voluntary exclusion program casinos use photos and facial recognition software to try to spot problem gamblers and kick them out of the casino.
Not surprisingly, this is not a perfect system.
Like any other kind of addict, problem gamblers can go to great lengths to try to get their fix.
Other times, we imagine, it may be as simple as blending into a crowd and keeping out of the way of casino staff.
What it really amounts to is that casinos are not equipped to be babysitters for folks who really need to take personal responsibility for dealing with their gambling problem.
When it comes to addiction, other people can only do so much. It has to come from the person with the problem.
Signing up for the voluntary exclusion program is a great start. But the entire weight of keeping a problem gambler from trying his or her luck cannot be put on the service provider.
It’s much like alcoholics, who can still go into liquor stores and buy booze, but can’t turn around and sue retailers for breaking their sobriety.
Or addicts of illegal drugs, who can’t sue police departments for failing to stop them from acquiring their substance of choice. Systems like the voluntary exclusion program can and should be set up to try to help people with problems, but it can’t solve them for them without additional effort on their part.
Voluntary exclusion programs ensure that addicts won’t be paid if they win; this ruling ensures they won’t be reimbursed if they lose. It’s akin to tough love.
Keep problem gamblers outside the doors if possible, if not, remove the rewards of their addiction.
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