More illegal VLTs discovered in N.B.
5 'grey machines' located at a bar across from Atlantic Lottery head office in Moncton
More bars and clubs have illegal video-lottery terminals with little effort to conceal them, CBC News has discovered following its investigative report released Tuesday that revealed the re-emergence of the machines.
Staff at Atlantic Lottery Corporation's headquarters in downtown Moncton don't have to look very far to find competition for their licensed VLTs.
They only have to stroll across the parking lot to the IOOB Bar.
The IOB, as it is known, is a busy little downtown pub with a lot of regulars.
And the five so-called grey machines are a popular part of the action.
The machines make money for the owners, while cutting out the Atlantic Lottery Corporation and the provincial government.
'Jealous' bar owners
Bar owner Roger Prosser has had signs made up saying the proceeds go to the IWK Children's Hospital in Halifax.
"We thought that the profit from it we would donate to a worthy cause, [provincial inspectors] would leave us alone, but obviously they won't," said Prosser.
Inspectors were at the bar as recently as yesterday.
Prosser said it is unfair that the Moncton Casino and other bars in the area are allowed to have VLTs while he, as a smaller operator, cannot get them legally.
Every bar should be allowed at least three machines, he said.
"It's not the general public complaining, it's the people who have other bars. They're jealous."
Prosser has already been fined $500 and the next fine will double.
He said he's only had the machines for a matter of weeks and with startup expenses, there are not yet any profits to pass along to the IWK.
Prosser said it is only his profits that will go to the hospital. The outside owners of the actual machines will have to be paid their share.
New Brunswick Liberal Leader Brian Gallant said if grey machine operators want to see a change, they should discuss it.
"If they feel that they have a case. I mean, I'm sure that they're looking at that now to judge if they have a case. And if they do have one, they can try to make it," said Gallant.
"But in the meantime, they should be respecting the law."
NDP Leader Dominic Cardy said the province's authority is not being taken seriously and that enforcement should have begun as soon as the machines appeared.
"Laws have got to mean something," said Cardy.
No protection for players
Moncton newspaper columnist and blogger Brian Cormier said he was shocked to hear that illegal VLTs are popping up in bars around the province.
Illegal video lottery terminals are not just stealing money from provincial coffers, they offer no protection for the people using them, he said.
Business owners shouldn't be allowed to get away with it, Cormier said.
"Because when they're not trained to handle gambling issues and all that, at least there's some awareness in the establishments that have them — how keep your eye out for a problem gambler. These machines are tested, they can't be fixed, everything is fed into Atlantic Lotto," said Cormier.
"But these grey market machines in the back of a business, who knows who is controlling them, really? And they can be manipulated very easily."
Cormier said he supports legal VLTs because they provide revenue for the province, but the government should crack down on illegal ones.