A judge has certified a class-action lawsuit against the B.C. Lottery Corporation for two men who were denied their winnings because they had signed voluntary self-exclusion agreements.
The BCLC said winners Hamidreza Haghdust and Michael Lee could not claim more than $77,000 in prize money because of the terms of the Voluntary Self-Exclusion program, which specifics they wouldn't get any winnings if they played.
Lawyers for both Haghdust and Lee applied to get a class-action suit certified, arguing that their clients spent a lot of money seeking to win the jackpots they were denied and that the BCLC decision not to pay is "unconscionable and a breach of contract."
And this week, B.C. Supreme Court Justice John Savage ruled there were sufficient grounds to certify a class-action for gaming winners denied because they were in the self-exclusion program.
"The claims of the class members raise common issues that could usefully be resolved in the format of a class proceeding," Savage said in his reasons, released Wednesday. "The class definition is appropriate and includes only those who have a common interest in determining whether the defendant's withholding of Jackpot prizes was a breach of contract or an unconscionable trade act or practice."
Lawyers for the two have said there are many more people in a similar situation as their two clients, having signed agreements under BCLC's Voluntary Self-exclusion Program, but have entered gaming facilities anyway and spent large amounts of cash only to be deprived of subsequent prizes.
And they say that the BCLC has kept the money spent by their clients and others in the program, yet then denies them their winnings.
The voluntary program was implemented in 2009 and is generally used by problem gamblers.
The BCLC has not yet responded to the ruling.