Atlantic Lottery Corp., a Canadian gambling major, received a major setback in the first month of 2017 when a Supreme Court judge of Newfoundland certified a class action lawsuit against the company.
The lawsuit was filed by two angry players from Newfoundland and Labrador district. Local media sources identified the two as Douglas Babstock of Mount Pearl, and Fred Small of Gander. They approached the court after playing Atlantic Lottery Corp’s Video Lottery games.
The notice was served to Atlantic Lottery Corp. by Justice Alphonsus Faour, after examining the preliminary details of the case. Justice Faour was convinced that the “conceptualization of this case is workable” and sought a tangible reply from the company. The duo presented the charges along with an affidavit from the University of Waterloo, which details a research study done on the problems associated with gambling. The court took this as initial evidence and found enough merit to serve the lawsuit.
It is interesting to note that the whole case was filed on the basis of a 300-year-old law, or the “Gaming Act, 1710”. According to this law, a gambling player can sue a casino for extreme monetary losses. Justice Faour noted that this law “isn’t relevant in contemporary times” and the plaintiffs would need to show concrete evidence to support their claims. This is complicated because online gambling companies are not bound to reveal their software’s core programming details in court.
At the heart of this problem is the video lottery terminal, which is starkly different from the usual online slots. The bets on video lottery terminals are placed on outcomes of video games and it is not new to controversy. Since its growing popularity in Canada, the video lottery terminal has faced excessive criticism, both domestic and international.
Ches Crosbie, the lawyer that represent the players, recently did a TV interview detailing the nature of the deceit. Crosbie said VLTs are inherently designed to create a perception of winning, which is always opposite in reality. He said that the line games are not actually deciphered on the basis of the video game results, but are astutely programmed to create “cognitive distortions” and cause perpetually loss of money. He also conjured up numbers, saying Atlantic Corp is making C$10 million annually through VLTs. He also accused VLT’s of statistically affecting more people with gambling addiction than any other game.
It is unclear what sort of evidence the claimant will put forward on the court. The court has granted 2 months’ time to the players to prove their case with evidence. The official communications channel of Atlantic Lottery Corp, issued a statement saying, “the accusations are devoid of any merit” and the company is “fully prepared to aggressively defend its integrity”. Carla Bourque, senior communications counsel of Atlantic Lottery Corp also assured its clients of fair play claiming, “there are 10 responsible gambling features in all our official VLT’s.” The nature of the case is similar to an earlier case filed in the US under the Nevada Gaming Commission in 1988, where a man accused a casino of manipulating their 3-reel slots.