Gambling addict suing government, AGLC
St. Albert resident Gisele Jubinville files nearly $2-million lawsuit
By: By Megan Sarrazin
| Posted: Saturday, Oct 27, 2012 06:00 am
A St. Albert woman is suing the province for nearly $2 million, claiming it did not properly warn the public about the addictive nature of electronic gaming machines.
Calgary-based law firm McLeod Law LLP filed the lawsuit on behalf of Gisele Jubinville on Wednesday at the Court of Queen’s Bench in Edmonton.
The statement of claim alleges the province intentionally misled Albertans on the effects of electronic gambling machines and is seeking $1,925,000 in damages, $1 million of which is for “aggravated, exemplary and punitive damages.”
“The allegations are that the (Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission) … misrepresented the payout figures and also the fact that these machines are addictive,” said lawyer Barry Steinfeld.
Both the province of Alberta and the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission are named as defendants. Steinfeld said the defendants are currently being served.
Commission spokesperson Jody Korchinski said she could not comment on the lawsuit, as it is before the court, but said there is information available on their website about setting limits and responsible gambling.
Jubinville released a book at the beginning of the year chronicling her decade-long struggle with gambling addiction.
She has said she made her first million in 1993 for a patented invention and started using VLTs two years later. By 2009, she had poured roughly $400,000 into slot machines and VLTs.
The court action claims $750,000 in gambling losses, $14,000 in ATM fees for cash withdrawals and $11,000 in travel to bars, lounges and casinos.
Jubinville said she was advised not to speak about the case, but stressed the importance of awareness.
“It’s just important that we start talking about this addiction,” she said. “So many families are or have gone through what I went through and probably are too ashamed or embarrassed to talk about it.”
The court action claims that while Jubinville was suffering detrimental effects from the use of VLTs, the government was profiting.
“The defendants have profited billions of dollars from users of (electronic gaming machines) and continue to profit billions of dollars each year from users of (the machines),” the claim says.
It says the defendants’ conduct was “deliberate, calculated and high-handed,” adding it profited “off the backs of a vulnerable segment of society.”
At the end of 2011, then St. Albert MLA Ken Allred took up Jubinville’s cause, questioning whether the commission was being up front with the public about how the machines operate, how finances are reported and what the cost is to the province.
The commission advertises an average payout rate of roughly 92 per cent for VLTs, although Allred said he suspected that number was closer to 69 per cent.
The 92-per-cent payout rate is calculated by taking the total cash played less cash won. Prior to 1999, the commission reported the total funds entering the machines and the total funds cashed out, with a payout rate of roughly 69 per cent.
The commission denied claims that it was misleading Albertans.