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Poverty activist wins casino fight

<p>A Gatineau-based activist’s years-long fight to learn what Loto-Québec knows about suicides within its casinos has ended in victory.</p>

Loto-Québec agrees to release suicide reports


A Gatineau-based activist’s years-long fight to learn what Loto-Québec knows about suicides within its casinos has ended in victory.



Loto-Québec confirmed yesterday it will release, as early as tomorrow, hundreds of documents pertaining to ambulance interventions, suicides and attempted suicides that have occurred at Quebec casinos — five and a half years after Bill Clennett first requested the reports in a bid to gauge what harm gambling might be doing to some in the province.



"This information should be provided automatically. I think Loto-Québec was obstinate," Clennett said yesterday.



Loto-Québec spokesman Jean-Pierre Roy said the government corporation is compiling the reports and deleting the identities of casino customers and personnel, for privacy law reasons. Afterwards the documents will be released.



Clennett will pass the information to experts on gambling issues for study before presenting them at a press conference at Maison du Citoyen on Tuesday. He anticipates a lot of interest.



"Because this information is being held back and there’s so much secrecy inside the casinos, I think it’s blown up in people’s imaginations."



Clennett first requested the information while working for an anti-poverty organization, where he said he witnessed people struggling with gambling problems.



"Loto-Québec said they weren’t obligated to supply information, so I had to make an appeal to the Access to Information Commission," he said.



The request went through courts until an appeal court ruled in Clennett’s favour. Loto-Québec decided not to take the issue to Supreme Court and agreed to release the documents.



Clennett expects to receive documents relating to ambulance interventions at the Hull casino, 10 incident reports — eight from Casino du Lac Leamy and two from the Montreal casino — relating to "serious incidents" and technical files on "persons or players in distress."



While Clennett called the wait unnecessary, Roy said Loto-Québec had received several favourable judgments and had concerns about "security and privacy issues that we felt were important, and we raised them."




tracey.tong@metronews.ca



















gauging gambling




  • The report, which coincidentally will be presented during Suicide Prevention Week, is the first step in recognizing gambling could have serious consequences for some people, according to activist Bill Clennett.


 
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