Nfld. & Labrador

VLT class action against Atlantic Lottery gets green light

People who have launched a class action lawsuit against the Atlantic Lottery Corporation over video lottery terminals will have their day in Supreme Court.
The fight against video lottery terminals is headed to the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador. Plaintiffs in the case say the Atlantic Lottery Corporation has designed the VLT line of games to be deceptive. (CBC)

People who've launched a class action lawsuit against the Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) over video lottery terminals will have their day in court.

They began the lawsuit back in 2007, claiming that the corporation designed the VLT line of games to be deceptive.

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador rejected ALC's attempt to have the lawsuit struck out.

Doug Babstock, who is the lead plaintiff in the case, is happy with the news. The class action is filed under his name. 

'These machines are destroying too many people. My greatest choice would be remove them, government [to] suck it up and not worry about the bit of money they're going to lose — and let people get their lives back together.'  - Doug Babstock

Babstock told the Central Morning Show that he started using VLTs in the late 1990s. 

He said the machines gradually sucked away his money — and took over his life.

"I started playing in 1998 on a very innocent level. By 2001, I ended up playing every day. I retired in 2006, and that made it worse because I had all this free time and I began to play it constantly," said Babstock.

Babstock said it took a couple of years of counselling and support from his wife to get over his addiction to the machines.

"And it was something I had a very rough time getting away from. I almost lost my relationship because of it. But with her support, I was able to go to counselling for a couple of years, and today I'm very pleased to say that the machines don't mean anything to me."

Babstock said the worst part was seeing how the VLTs turned him into someone he wasn't.

"Something that it did to me that I really do regret, is that it turned me into something a sneak and a liar. That's the one thing that really disappointed me."

Hoping for a complete VLT ban

Babstock is glad that now his group will be able to argue their case in front of a judge.

"It means that we can take it to court, and let the judge make a decision as to whether this is something that should be ceased or whether they feel we're not right in our thinking. I believe we are," he said.

Babstock said he hopes the judge's decision will see a complete ban of VLTs in the province.

"These machines are destroying too many people. My greatest choice would be remove them, government [to] suck it up and not worry about the bit of money they're going to lose — and let people get their lives back together. I don't think the government and the people in charge realize how many people are affected by this machine," he said.