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Thursday, 14 June, 2001, 16:31 GMT 17:31 UK
Addicted gamblers sue in Quebec

By Mike Fox in Montreal

A lawyer in Canada's Quebec City is launching a class action suit against the province's gambling monopoly for not warning players about the alleged dangers of its games.

The case is thought to be the first class action suit of its type in the world.

The legal team leading the suit say that the government-controlled agency, Loto Quebec, has failed to warn users of its popular video gambling machines that, for some, they can be dangerously addictive.

Until 1993 the machines had appeared in bars illegally but once the government took control of them, the lawyers say that this gave the impression that there were no dangers connected with their use.

'Potentially thousands'

The lawsuit involves around 50 people so far, but lawyers believe thousands of others may join the case.

Gambling here is an increasingly controversial issue. The Quebec coroner says at least 33 suicides in 1999 had direct links to problem gambling.

In April, one man with heavy gambling debts shot himself in the car park of the Montreal casino.

The lawsuit is expected to take several years to reach a conclusion. So far Loto Quebec says it will only comment once the case has been heard.

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