Out-of-court settlement of class-action lawsuit could have national implications

Quebec’s Lottery Commission has reached a tentative multimillion-dollar agreement to compensate thousands of addicted gamblers, in a case with national implications for Canada. The out-of-court settlement stems from a class-action lawsuit, filed against Loto-Quebec in 2001 by gamblers addicted to video lottery terminals.

A group concerned with ethics at Loto-Quebec said it wasn’t surprised by the settlement, suggesting that the Lottery Commission doesn't want a court judgment that might set a legal precedent.

Similar lawsuits are under way in Ontario, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland-Labrador, and other jurisdictions have had their eyes on the Quebec case.

A spokesman for Loto-Quebec said details of the tentative agreement will be made public on January 16.

The plaintiffs say around 119,000 Quebec gamblers can trace their addiction to VLTs. They were hoping for more than C$500 million, but the settlement reportedly amounts to C$50 million. In order to get compensation, Loto-Quebec says compulsive gamblers will need to provide proof that they underwent therapy during the 1990s.