Loto-Québec to pay for gamblers' therapy
Cost estimated at $50M to reimburse gambling addicts
Loto-Québec will pay for addiction therapy for thousands of compulsive gamblers in the province, after the gaming corporation reached an out-of-court deal in a decade-old class action suit.
On Tuesday, the Quebec Superior Court approved a multimillion-dollar settlement between Loto-Québec and a group of compulsive gamblers that sued the gaming corporation for damages related to their addiction.
In the deal, Loto-Québec agrees to pay for the gamblers' addiction therapy between 1994 and 2002, to an average of about $5,000 per claimant.
The lawsuit will cost an estimated $50 million and affect nearly 120,000 people in Quebec.
When the gamblers first sued they sought about $700 million and measures to warn the public about the dangers of gambling. They accused the gaming corporation of negligence for not including warnings on video lottery terminals (VLTs).
Sol Boxenbaum, a responsible gambling advocate, said the compensation is welcome, but that the settlement falls short of establishing any significant legal precedent to control problem gamblers.
"We had established that video lottery terminals had addictive features built right into them. In the settlement, the lawyers agreed that the machine does not cause the addiction. So, in other words, we have thrown away everything that we worked towards establishing," he said.
Claimants have 18 months to request reimbursement for their therapy.
The class action suit was launched in 2001.