News

Gambling addict sues casinos

Langley City’s Cascades Casino is one of two named in a lawsuit filed by compulsive gambler Joyce Ross, who says the casinos and the provincial government failed to stop her from gambling, even after she went on a self-exclusion program for problem gamblers. - Langley Times file photo
Langley City’s Cascades Casino is one of two named in a lawsuit filed by compulsive gambler Joyce Ross, who says the casinos and the provincial government failed to stop her from gambling, even after she went on a self-exclusion program for problem gamblers.
— image credit: Langley Times file photo

For the first time in B.C., a gambling addict is suing the casinos she frequented, including Langley’s Cascades Casino, and the provincial government, for failing to stop her from gambling her life away.

In 2010, Joyce Ross, 56, filed suit against the B.C. Lottery Corporation (BCLC) and Langley Cascades Casino and Fraser Downs gaming centre in Cloverdale for letting her continue to gamble even after she put herself on the government’s “self-exclusion program.”

She is now pleading her civil claim in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster.

She told CBC News that in 2007, she signed herself up for the program in the hopes casino staff would not allow her to gamble. She told the media when she filed the claim that she was totally out of control and spent every dime she had, as well as her family and friends’ money, to gamble.

The self-exclusion program was created by the BCLC and is meant to prevent compulsive gamblers from entering casinos. The gaming centre is supposed to have a record of the gamblers’ face and by using state-of-the-art surveillance systems to catch addicts as they come in the door.

Ross is claiming the program failed completely, as she continued to gamble until 2010 when she hit rock bottom and got help.

The Times will publish the decision by the Supreme Court when it becomes available.

Two casinos in Langley?

In the meantime, the Township is looking to secure its own gaming centre. Langley City has cashed in from gaming revenues, taking in around $6 million per year. The provincial government, of course, gets the largest cut of the revenues from casinos, and filters some of that back into community grants.

The casino is required to provide 10 per cent of its net revenues to the host municipality. Langley City received more than $6.2 million from Cascades Casino in the 2010/2011 fiscal year. In 2011, $82 million was given to local governments in B.C. that host casinos and gaming centres.

Before the City approved the casino, Mayor Peter Fassbender opposed it. A councillor at the time, he said gambling can be addictive to some, leading to the break-up of families and it can ruin people’s lives.

Township council has been discussing the appropriate use of the lands around the Langley Events Centre for several months, including a gambling centre. The Township recently acquired the Gibbs Nursery Site, with an eye to include amenities such as a hotel, theatre, gaming centre, restaurant and/or residential. This project will be developing over the next several years to complement the LEC.

Township councillor Grant Ward said that he personally feels the property “is an ideal location for a community gaming facility.”

The property, three acres on the southeast corner of 200 Street and 80 Avenue, was bought last November by Langley Township for $5,750,000.

The property abuts the northwest corner of the Events Centre property which covers about 25 acres.

The Langley Facilities Society, which is responsible for managing the Langley Events Centre, recently began construction of a $7.725 million expansion project to accommodate the large demand for additional sports and entertainment programs.

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