Joyce Ross claimed two casino operators and the B.C. Lottery Corp. were negligent in their implementation of the voluntary self-exclusion program for problem gamblers.

Banned gambler loses lawsuit against B.C. casinos

B.C. Supreme Court rules onus also on self-excluded patrons to keep out of casinos

A North Delta woman who tried to sue two Lower Mainland casinos and the B.C. Lottery Corp. for failing to keep her from compulsively gambling has lost her case in B.C. Supreme Court.

Joyce Ross alleged she lost $78,000 at Surrey’s Fraser Downs and Langley’s Cascades casinos between 2007 and 2010 despite having signed herself into the BCLC’s voluntary self-exclusion program, which is designed to bar entry to admitted problem gamblers.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice John Truscott found the two casinos were not negligent and their policies, surveillance and security systems were appropriate and reasonable.

“In many respects, the plaintiff is the author of her own misfortune because she was attempting after self-exclusion not to be identified by the casinos, which is just the opposite attitude that she should have had,” Truscott stated in his decision.

The self-exclusion system at that time relied largely on casino staff recognizing banned patrons from hundreds of circulated photos they were to periodically review.

Identity checks of all incoming patrons was impractical, the court heard, and licence plate recognition scanners now used to detect banned gamblers’ cars in parking lots weren’t in use at that time.

The court found the program met and perhaps exceeded the industry standard of the time.

While voluntary self-exclusion helps identify and remove many patrons, the court said, those who enrol must still try to control or stop their gambling.

“It was her primary responsibility to remain out of the casinos,” Truscott ruled. “To award her these monies simply because she was in the self-exclusion program when every other gambler not in the program is not entitled to this recovery, would be to encourage every other gambler to join the self-exclusion program in order to have this claim.”

Ross signed up at Fraser Downs in June of 2007 and then steered clear of the Cloverdale racetrack and casino for long periods of time, after which casino staff were less likely to spot her. Ross also admitted she was less likely to be recognized from her 2007 photo after growing her hair longer and gaining weight.

The decision also upholds BCLC’s right to withhold winnings of gamblers when they’re self excluded – a rule that took effect in April 2009.

That did not deprive Ross of any winnings, court heard, because she never won more than $10,000 at a time, the threshold at which identification is required to claim prize money.

A separate class action lawsuit certified last year seeks to force BCLC to pay large withheld jackpots to other self-excluded gamblers.

Ross told Black Press last October that BCLC should lower the threshold for identification checks and thereby confiscate more winnings from excluded gamblers if it is serious about eliminating problem gambling.

She said her lawsuit was not aimed at recouping her lost money, but exposing the program’s flaws so others are better protected in future.

BCLC welcomed the ruling.

“We are appreciative the court has confirmed that BCLC and our casino service providers have effectively met or exceeded the applicable standard of care,” the lottery corporation said in a statement posted to its website.

“BCLC and our service providers are committed to continuously improving the program and will continue to conduct research, recognize best-practices and apply industry standards.”

BCLC noted free problem gambling counselling and a 24-hour problem gambling help line are also available.

More than 6,000 B.C. residents are enrolled in the voluntary self-exclusion program and participants have been denied entry or removed from casinos more than 36,000 times from 2007-11. A total of 300 jackpot prizes were withheld from ineligible excluded gamblers between 2009 and mid-2012.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Sex offender who viewed underage girls as slaves has prohibitions cut from 20 to 10 years

Appeal court reviewed case of Kyler Bryan David Williams, 29

Textile artists Amy Walker and Sharon Kallis install their contributions to the Museum of Surrey’s new feature exhibit “Nature’s Clothesline.” The exhibit explores how the world is airing its dirty laundry – not on a clothesline, but in the landfills and oceans. (Photo submitted)
‘Nature’s Clothesline’ opens at Museum of Surrey

Exhibition strives to educate on how our choice of clothing can affect ‘the health of the planet’

South Surrey’s Pacific Inn Resort – known locally as the Pink Palace – has been closed since 2018, but on Saturday will host a Overnight Paranormal Tour and Ghost Hunt. (Facebook photo)
South Surrey’s Pink Palace to host late-night Halloween ghost tour

Paranormal ghost hunt set for midnight to 4 a.m. Saturday at closed hotel

Surrey RCMP recently seized about 451 grams of suspected “magic mushrooms” during a traffic stop in Guildford on Oct. 25. (Photo: Surrey RCMP handout)
Surrey RCMP seize suspected ‘magic mushrooms’ during traffic stop

Police say the driver was going 108 km/h in a 60 km/h zone

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

The B.C. Teacher Regulation Branch has issued a decision about the actions of an elementary school teacher in Langley. (Langley Advance Times files)
Lower Mainland elementary teacher credentials suspended for two weeks for grabbing, shoving, and yelling at kids

Roxann Rojas will lose her legal authority to teach for two weeks from Oct. 25 to Nov. 7, 2020

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Lawrence Nadessan, 44, was last seen on Oct. 24 at 11:30 p.m. in Maple Ridge.
Maple Ridge man missing since Saturday is extremely out of character, family says

Cameras saw him leaving home, not dressed for the weather

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A group of Abbotsford secondary principals’s and vice-principals are at a retreat in Whistler this weekend. (Whistler.com photo)
Abbotsford principals attend retreat in Whistler despite COVID-19 gathering restrictions

Reported group of 20 did follow COVID-19 protocols during Whistler Pro-D event, says school district

The duffel bags were found to contain 84 pounds of cocaine, valued at approximately $1.2 million and 198 pounds of methamphetamine, valued at approximately $960,000. Photo courtesy U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
2 men accused of fleeing border agents near U.S.-B.C. border with $2M in drugs

Cocaine and methamphetamine seized by U.S. law enforcement in remote Idaho area near Canadian border

FILE – The Queen of Alberni ferry leaves the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal in Delta bound for Vancouver Island, Sunday, July 29, 2007. (CP PHOTO/Richard Lam) CANADA
Mechanical failure leaves nearly 200 passengers stranded on BC Ferries ship for hours

A tug arrived after dark to safely nudge the vessel into a berth so travellers could finally disembark

Most Read