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Gambling News From Canada And Germany

By: Joe Valentino, Thursday January 10th 2013
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Two very unusual situations were reported in the area of gambling. One concerns issues regarding voluntary self exclusion and is from Canada. The other is a vexing ruling in the complicated matter of the German state of Schleswig Holstein (SH).

In the Canadian province of British Columbia the Supreme Court Justice John Savage approved a class action application against the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) filed by two gamblers. The case addresses a very interesting and pertinent question. If a gambler signs a voluntary self-exclusion agreement at a gambling venue, and then manages somehow to gamble at that venue and wins big, should he be paid out? The initiators of the class action were Hamidreza Haghdust and Michael Lee. They had voluntarily signed a self-exclusion agreement at a particular BCLC venue. They then managed to return there to gamble and claimed that they had spent Canadian dollars 200,000 and 30,000 respectively chasing jackpots in slots machines. Ultimately they won Canadian dollars 77,000. However BCLC refused to pay out on the ground that they had voluntarily self-excluded themselves. The duo claimed that this was unconscionable and a breach of contract and hence the class action litigation. BCLC clarified that its Voluntary Self-Exclusion program specifies that if self-excluded gamblers still manage to play, no winnings will be paid out.

While approving the application, Justice Savage has not indicated a position on either side, but has only pointed out that the situation meets the requirements for class action. The issue raised would find common cause with others and could be best resolved in the format of a class proceeding. However, only those who have a common interest in determining whether the defendant’s withholding of payouts was a breach of contract or an unconscionable trade act or practice would be allowed to participate. The lawyers for the gamblers stated there are many more people in a similar situation. No date has been set for the trial.

For the German state of SH, the European Commission has given a ruling that is likely to confound the situation because SH is likely to land up with two conflicting regulatory regimes. SH had passed laws approving liberalized online gambling, which were lauded by the industry and the European Commission. Then elections in SH resulted in a government coming to power that opposed liberalized online gambling and wished to become a part of the restrictive German Interstate Treaty on gambling. SH has already issued 27 sports betting, online casino and poker licenses to major European online gambling operators under the liberal laws. Now the European Commission has given approval for SH joining the larger German treaty. This leaves the licensees totally confused. They have made massive investments on the understanding that the liberal laws would apply. Now they are not sure. For the time being they are prepared to wait and watch but do not rule out litigation to protect their interests in the worst case.

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