What Happened to Self-Responsibility?

First people sued cigarette companies for giving them lung cancer. Then people sued fast food restaurants for making them fat. The latest fad? Suing gambling corporations for making people lose money.

I’m tired of it. I’m tired of people trying to blame a third party for their own losses and problems. With all of the evidence that goes against the bad habits, or addictions as people may refer to them now, like smoking, constantly eating out and the potential for losing money and causing problems with your friends and family if you gamble too much – not to mention all of the ads on TV and radio –  how can you still feign ignorance?!

The latest debacle includes Peter Dennis, a self-described gambling addict, who is suing OLG for “allowing him” to gamble away $350,000 in about 4 years, even after signing a voluntary self-exclusion contract giving the ability to casinos and racetracks to kick him out if they recognized him. He lost $350,000 – and so he’s suing OLG for $3.5 billion! What?! That’s an increase of 1000x the amount Peter lost. Where’s the sense in that?

[One can only assume his lawyer told him he could probably win that much. I’m sure the lawyer will take a hefty percentage if Peter wins or settles out of court too!]

So first – where does Peter get the gall to sue OLG for his own shortcomings? I know plenty of people who gamble, only one of which has ever recognized enough of a problem to join the self-exclusion program. The difference? She actually stayed away from the local casino (and she lives in Sarnia, about 10 minutes away from the Port Edward Casino). If she had enough strength to do that, why didn’t Peter?

And why, instead of signing a voluntary program, wouldn’t Peter try to get professional help? None of the stories I’ve read have mentioned Peter seeking counselling or alerting extended family members that they might try seeking him out at local gambling agencies if they couldn’t find him. If I had a drinking problem, the first thing I would do after admitting it is tell my friends and family that if they can’t find me, check the bars! One would think that’s what lengths one would go to if they seriously want the help they need.

In fact, where was his family when all this was going on? The lawsuit’s been launched on behalf of him and his wife – doesn’t sound like she did anything to stop him. Why does Peter sue his wife? Or his kids? Or his parents? Seriously now…

I’m sick and tired of people trying to offload their problems onto other people. No one’s forcing you to smoke cigarettes, or drugs for that matter; no one’s forcing you to eat at McDonalds, Burger King or Wendy’s; no one’s forcing you to play Lotto 6/49 or to bet on the horses! Take some responsibility for your own actions already! You have a choice! You have free will! USE IT!

Secondly, $3.5 billion? That’s a gross amount beyond belief. That’s the equivalent of me punching a neighbour in the arm and him then cutting both my legs off. The restitution/retribution does not equal out in any way, not even when you factor in the time Peter might have lost from work or family relationships he may have lost. $5.5 billion is probably more than the GDP of at least a couple of countries. Unless he’s planning on donating the majority of that to charity, which by the way is where some of the money he already gambled away went anyway, then there’s no way to justify $3.5 billion.

You can’t expect any casino or racetrack to recognize any one of the 12,000 people who have joined the self-exclusion program. I come from a town of 15,000 and I don’t know even a quarter of them, let alone 12,000 of them. Face tracking technology doesn’t work as well as it does on TV either, nor is it very affordable. OLG says they’re experimenting with it, but with the false positives likely to be recorded by any piece of face tracking software they definitely have to be careful.

You can only expect government to look after you for so long. At some point you need to step up and admit that you have a problem and then actively seek help – even if that help is paid for by the government. If Peter wants to experience George Orwell’s book “1984” then maybe he should go live south of the border where the USA PATRIOT Act can account for almost everything you do, or in England where there are CCTV cameras almost everywhere in metro areas.