VLT class action against At­lantic Lot­tery Corp. gets go-ahead

The Southern Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - BY ROSIE MULLALEY

A court case claim­ing video lot­tery ter­mi­nals (VLTs) are ad­dic­tive and po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous has been given the goa­head to pro­ceed as a class action against At­lantic Lot­tery Corp. Inc.

The de­ci­sion by New­found­land Supreme Court Jus­tice Alphon­sus Faour was made pub­lic last week af­ter more than a year’s wait.

Lawyers pre­sented their fi­nal state­ments in ar­gu­ing the class-action ap­pli­ca­tion in Septem­ber 2015.

Ches Cros­bie and Michael Dull rep­re­sent plain­tiffs Dou­glas Bab­stock of Mount Pearl and Fred Small of Gan­der, while Daniel Sim­mons and Re­becca Mar­shall, rep­re­sent the At­lantic Lot­tery Corp.

In a 52-page writ­ten de­ci­sion, Faour ruled the case met all the re­quire­ments un­der the Class Ac­tions Act, in­clud­ing that there are com­mon is­sues in the claims of the class.

The action is about prob­lem gam­bling and the im­pact on some peo­ple who play VLTs, which the At­lantic Lot­tery Corp. makes avail­able at var­i­ous com­mer­cial es­tab­lish­ments through­out the prov­ince.

The games at the sub­ject of the action are known as line games, which are mod­elled af­ter tra­di­tional slot ma­chines on the VLT screens.

The le­gal­ity of the games isn’t the is­sue in the case. ently ad­dic­tive and in­her­ently dan­ger­ous when used as in­tended.”

The cor­po­ra­tion’s lawyers ar­gued that if peo­ple be­lieve they have been harmed, their cases should be heard on an in­di­vid­ual ba­sis.

But Faour said ev­i­dence pre­sented at the hear­ing showed there was some “ba­sis in fact” to sup­port the plain­tiffs’ al­le­ga­tions.

The judge noted the At­lantic Lot­tery Corp. and third par­ties (share­hold­ers, sup­pli­ers of video lot­tery ma­chines and soft­ware) made ar­gu­ments that don’t ad­dress what the plain­tiffs have pro­posed.

“For ex­am­ple, they con­tin­u­ally ex­pressed the need to have in­di­vid­ual as­sess­ments when deal­ing with the com­mon is­sues, proof of in­di­vid­ual mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion on the is­sues which rest on de­cep­tion and proof of in­di­vid­u­als harm,” Faour said.

“The plain­tiffs, on the other hand, have as­serted a claim which is not based on in­di­vid­ual proof or in­di­vid­ual harm. In fact, they have de­nied any in­di­vid­ual in­jury or harm as a ba­sis for the claim.

“They rest on al­le­ga­tions of mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion and de­cep­tion in the of­fer­ing of games which they say may cause harm.

“The plain­tiffs have per­suaded me that their con­cep­tu­al­iza­tion of this case is work­able and can be con­sid­ered on the mer­its of the case as framed.”

COLIN FAR­RELL/ TC ME­DIA

Fran­cis Bragg took a moment to speak with lawyer Mar­cus Evans be­fore court pro­ceed­ings be­gan.

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