Can You Sue Casinos for Losing Money?
Gambling can be addictive. In one evening, a person can win or lose a fortune. The Court of Appeal of Ontario has recently addressed the issue of whether or not a person can sue the Casino for damages in certain circumstances.
Clients of a gambler (from whom the gambler stole trust money to feed her addiction) sued the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG). In gist, a gambler stole money from others to gamble. It is alleged she stole about 3 million dollars and lost it. The persons from whom the gambler stole money sued the OLG claiming that they were negligent in allowing the gambler to lose so much money; money she had stolen. The claimants claimed that the OLG knew that the gambler was a problem gambler and knowingly received trust funds from her. Moreover, that the OLG failed to stop the gambling knowing it was unreasonable and the gambler had an addiction.
At first, the OLG was successful in having the claim dismissed. The Judge stated that the court action did not have a reasonable chance of success. The dismissal was appealed to the Ontario Court of Appeal and that Court ruled that it was not “plain and obvious” that the lawsuit would have no chance of success and so it could proceed to trial.
The majority of the Ontario Court of Appeal allowed the claims for “knowing receipt of trust funds” and for unjust enrichment to proceed. It noted that the Court would need to determine if the Casino did all it could to prevent the loss such as conducting an individualized assessment of each of their gambling customers and stated that the allegation that, “more may be expected when an individual is obviously addicted to gambling and out of control”.
In its assessment, the Ontario Court of Appeal states that it is possible that the Casino, being a commercial enterprise that offers a service to the general public, has the responsibilities to act with special care to reduce risk.
Problem gambling is a problem in our society. While the Ontario Court of Appeal has not heard the entirety of the case and all of the evidence, it did rule that the court action may proceed to a trial. It remains to be seen if, after all the evidence is heard, whether a Casino (OLG) may be held liable based on duties they may owe to third party victims.
Quinn Thiele Mineault Grodzki LLP
Personal Injury Lawyers – Mediators
310 O’Connor Street
Ottawa, ON K2P 1V8
Tel: (613) 315-4878
Web: www.ottawalawyers.com and www.epersonalinjurylawyer.com