10/03/2012 03:51 EDT | Updated 09/30/2013 09:56 EDT

Gambling Addict Takes B.C. Lottery Corp. To Court

A woman who is addicted to gambling is suing the B.C. Lottery Corporation (BCLC) and two Langley casinos, claiming they failed to stop her from entering the casinos and led to her ultimately blowing more than $330,000 in life savings and loans.

Joyce Ross, 56, testified at the B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday after filing a notice of civil claim in 2010.

In 2007, the self-proclaimed gambling addict signed up for a voluntary self-exclusion program administered by the BCLC in an attempt to curb her habits.

"I was totally out of control, and I knew I needed help," she told CBC News in a 2010 interview.

"But I couldn't help myself at that time. I knew I needed help."

Voluntary self-exclusion program

The program is intended to prevent compulsive gamblers from entering casinos by using surveillance systems to catch the addicts before they spend any money and using fines of up to $5,000 to discourage them if they are caught.

Ross claims the program failed to work and allowed her to gamble for three more years before she quit single handedly and took legal action.

According to a report by The Province, the last time Ross gambled was on July 12, 2010, when she brought photos of herself to three different casinos and told staff members not to let her gamble.

"I just really want the government to recognize how bad the problem is — and its people, not statistics," the Province quoted her as saying Tuesday.

A first of its kind

This is the first case in B.C. where the provincial lottery corporation is being sued for the failure of the self-exclusion program.

Ross is suing the B.C. Lottery Corporation, Orangeville Raceway Ltd. (which owns Fraser Downs Racetrack and Casino in Langley) and Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Inc. (owner of Cascades Casino in Langley) for negligence and breach of contract.

The B.C. Lottery Corporation, Orangeville and Gateway have denied all allegations.

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