Peter Dennis has two problems.  The first, according to a Canadian Press article by Colin Perknel, is gambling:

“According to the unproven statement of claim, Dennis, of Markham, Ont., blew about $350,000 between August 2000 and May 2004 on various slot machines. His health declined, he became depressed and anxious.

After an 11-week, $59,000 binge, he signed a self-exclusion form at Woodbine Racetrack on May 23, 2004. Officials took his personal information and photograph.

Nevertheless, he continued going into gaming facilities and gambling, leading to another $200,000 in losses.

Ultimately, lenders foreclosed on his two houses and he was fired from his job at a data-management company for failing to pay back money he borrowed from a client.”

But his second problem shifts my sympathy to derision. Instead of facing his addiction and taking responsibility for his own behavior, Peter launched a $3.5-billion class action suit against the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation because they didn’t stop him from gambling.

I’m glad that the OLGC tries to help people with gambling problems, but it’s ludicrous to believe that one can sign a ‘self-exclusion’ form and transfer financial responsibility for one’s addiction to the OLGC.

If Peter really wanted to to excluded, he’d start by not going to the gaming facilities.  If that wasn’t enough he’d cut up his credit cards, burn his cheque books, sign over his bank account to his wife, and notify banks and credit bureaus not to lend him money.  And he’d seek professional help.

But blaming others is more fashionable these days.  It’s easier to blame the OLGC for not stopping him.  I presume that he also blames the Liquor Store for selling alcohol to alcoholics and pharmacists for dispensing potentially addictive drugs.

Peter, I have two words for you:  Personal Responsibility.  Be a man and take responsibility for your actions. Until you do, no amount of money will help you.

If there is any sense left in our judicial system, this suit will die a quick death.  And if there is any real justice, Peter Dennis will be paying everyone’s court costs.  I hope his lawyer asked for payment up front.

2 Responses to Bet on Personal Responsibility

  1. Evolving Squid
    Apr 17, 2009

    The relevant question one might ask, is: Even if we forget about the personal responsibility angle, what actions might OLGC have taken that are feasible and would have prevented Mr. Dennis from gambling?

    Presumably “shoot him in the head” would not be permitted.

    It’s a question that he should have been forced to answer before the lawsuit was filed – if there is such a feasible course of action, he might have a point. If there isn’t (and I don’t believe there is), then Mr. Dennis should have been forced to write “I am responsible for my own actions” on the blackboard one time for each dollar in the 4-wheel slot jackpot at the local casino.

  2. Delta Zero
    Dec 11, 2010

    You can’t just shoot gamblers. Capital punishment is not permitted in Ontario. That would be disproportionate punishment and a potentially a much greater sin provided they have not caused any legal harm or larger criminal offenses outside of their addiction/indebtedness. These individuals could in fact pose a criminal threat should their gambling become a motivator or justification for other criminal offense, in which case the crown could paint them as “morally bankrupt” or a “risk to society”.

    In many cases gamblers are forced into gamble by those who wish them badly and want to make their addiction worse or cause them further personal suffering. This could be political or community interests that want to sink the ship of a business man, by pushing them into gambling induced debt, risk behavior patterns; or those that want to cause them to make more haphazard decisions by skewing their financial judgment, such as a potential prostitute or dealer who solicits them to spend more and up-the-ante.

    This could be motivated by their illegitimate or criminal relationships, but for which otherwise the individual is still a contributing member of society who has a prospect for restoration following bankruptcy and/or the repaying of their debt to society.

    What makes this case interesting is that they are part correct, that Ontario has some responsibility as the crown corporation advertises and seeks to gain revenue from Lottery Terminals. However, this individual may not be able to implicate the state entirely, provided they had free will when engaging in such actions, much like those who choose smoke cigarettes can become highly addicted.

    However, if this individual invested knowingly and with able judgement in a gamble and now wants to collect from taxpayers using the legal system as a back-door to bolster their diminished winnings from failed gambles, then they are twice incorrect in their judgment, as they would be presenting a false case to the crown, namely that they were addicted with-out a choice in the matter, rather than that they choose that risky life-style and engaged in sin with the OLG.

    If the crown can prove that the individual had a choice and was not at first addicted with-out a psychological assessment proving that they lacked free will, then the case could be thrown-out. Further the crown has the defense that their legitimate gambling activities are protected revenue generation for the province, despite those who abuse the privilege by gambling in excess of their legitimate means.

    But the question for Ontario is primarily: will the Province act as the hooky for gambling prone individuals and further permit or legitimize the mals of society such as gambling, legalized prostitution and narcotics substance possession (marijuana possession is considered a light narcotics offense that in many cases Police turn a blind eye to), when pockets of the population seem to be hell bent on taking away legal responsibility for such personal and criminal choices.

    The difficulty is when determining motives, at some point even the less legitimate interests of society are still correct in court, they perhaps did not have a choice in their behavior, while ultimately the Province does.
    Does this mean the illegitimate should be rewarded (with pay-outs of tax-payer cash)? If so, it could be an excuse for crime groups to raid the province for all it’s worth.

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