Gambling addicts get $50 M compensation deal
Published Thursday, January 7, 2010 8:46AM EST
Loto-Quebec and the Quebec government have agreed to reimburse therapy fees paid by thousands of problem gamblers between 1994 and 2002, but gambling advocates say the deal is a dud.
The agreement, subject to approval by a judge in March, ends an eight-year legal battle that began with a class-action lawsuit filed by video-lottery terminal addicts in 2001.
A total of 250,000 gamblers are expected to receive as much as $50 million in total compensation but the government will not admit any fault.
Those claiming compensation will have to provide a doctor's letter and a bill.
Gambling addicts who received therapy after 2002 are not eligible for compensation because medicare has been covering their bills.
Anti-gambling advocates say the deal is not a victory because the government has not admitted any responsibility for problem gambling.
Author and gambling expert Pierre Desjardins told CTV's Annie DeMelt that a court-ordered settlement would have forced Quebec to take responsibility for gambling addiction.
He says video-lottery terminals are a particular menace.
"All of the (studies), all the experts say there is a big problem with those machines," he said in an interview on Thursday.
"Loto-Quebec refuses to admit it and this is the problem. We want these machines out of the bars and restaurants."
The plaintiffs say around 119,000 Quebec gamblers can trace their addiction to VLTs.
Loto-Quebec had no immediate comment on the settlement.
The gambling agency will publish notices in newspapers on January 16 to announce the deal.