Man who lost $ 75,000 to VLT disappointed with Supreme Court ruling in Atlantic Lottery lawsuit

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One of the two men who lead an attempted lawsuit against the Atlantic Lottery Corp., alleging that its video lottery terminals are addictive and deceptive, is disappointed that the Supreme Court of Canada has overturned their years-long lawsuit.The nation’s highest court ruled on Friday against the proposed class action lawsuit, involving 30,000 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians seeking damages from ALS for what people alleged was illegal earning of VLT income.

Retiree Doug Babstock of Mount Pearl was one of those 30,000 people and one of the two principal plaintiffs named in the lawsuit.

“It’s been nine years since we started this… and I think it hurts a lot of people,” Babstock said.

“You have over 30,000 people on the list, and I think most of them are not for financial reasons. ”

Babstock said he himself never viewed the lawsuit as financial gain. On the contrary, he said, he wanted to end a form of gambling that hurt a lot of people.

He recalls a story of a woman whose uncle committed suicide as a result of her addiction to VLT gambling. Another time Babstock saw an older woman urinating on the floor rather than giving up her seat on the machine.

“I know of many other cases like this, and I don’t think people in government and obviously I think the justice system realizes the damage that these machines are doing to people,” he said.

“It’s the machine that takes control of a person. I’ve never been so bad, thank goodness, but I’ve seen stuff like this and it’s terrible. “

The Supreme Court of Canada said on Friday that the class action could not proceed. (Glenn Payette / CBC)

‘I knew I had a problem’

Babstock’s problems with VLTs started with just $ 5.

He said he put this in a machine one night with a friend and made $ 40 in minutes. He used that money to buy a drink tour for the band he was with.

“It was fun,” he says.

In 2000, things started to pick up speed. Babstock said he started to “get involved a lot” in the VLT game and after his retirement in 2006 it got worse.

“It has become ridiculous. This is the only description I can use. I would go out at noon to be somewhere and make sure to be home at 4:30 pm before my wife came home. She didn’t know, ”he said.

“I knew I had a problem. ”

In eight years of VLT play, he said he lost around $ 75,000.

Babstock has sought advice and gives his counselor full credit for helping him kick the habit during a two year stint.

The six people attending his group counseling sessions had collectively lost $ 1.2 million, he said.

ALC has nearly 2,000 ALCs in Newfoundland and Labrador, with net income for the NLC of $ 130 million for the 2018-19 fiscal year, according to the company’s most recent financial reports.

Changes needed

Babstock has not touched a VLT since September 5, 2008, a date engraved in his memory.

“I remember it well,” he said.

“I realized at the time that I had made a big mistake. I didn’t have the same financial activity as some people I know, but I lost some money and it had a big impact on my life.

While the trial is over – which could have resulted in a ban on VLTs had he been successful – Babstock said something had to be done to make the machines less dangerous.

“Put a limit on what you can earn. Make it $ 50. It’s always fun, but nobody throws in $ 1,000 to make $ 500, ”he said.

“Don’t try to make a career out of taking money out of these machines, because that’s not going to happen. ”

Babstock said he was disappointed with his own decisions, but hopes other people can live their lives as well.

Today he plays golf, volleyball and cribbage, all without a game.

“I’m just enjoying life, and I wish everyone could have that. Recover and move on with his life. ”

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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