Folks, time for another update on my ongoing legal battles with Ontario crown corporations.
Fresh off a mediation victory with the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (I took exception to an unofficial LCBO promo of “Buy three bottles of scotch; get only two instead”) I am pleased to announce that I have achieved victory in my lawsuit against the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG).
This is a government Crown corporation, that at times, just like the LCBO, exists as a government onto itself.
And the OLG is also the most corrupt Crown corporation in the history of Crown corporations. Oh, don’t take my word for it. Simply refer to the scathing Ombudsman’s report from 2007 entitled, “A Game of Trust.” Then-Ontario ombudsman Andre Marin exposed that the OLG was purposefully cheating rightful lottery winners out of their jackpots. The OLG was also turning a blind eye to insider wins. The OLG’s behaviour was — and continues to be — appalling.
And guess what? It appears to be business as usual down at the OLG in terms of acting unethically and immorally, and perhaps even illegally.
You see, I’ve been covering OLG shenanigans for more than 25 years for various media outlets. I have exposed everything from hypocrisy to outright corruption. The OLG hates me for my journalism, all of it factually bulletproof, by the way. And so it is that the OLG continues to carry out a vendetta against me.
Case in point: whenever I win a modest lottery prize, they do everything they can to deny it. For example, last summer, I won a Pick 3 jackpot of $2,145. Not exactly life-changing money, but a nice win nevertheless.
The way the lottery racket works in Ontario is that a retailer can payout a prize that is less than $1,000. But for higher sums, one must go to the OLG Prize Centre in downtown Toronto.
And that is exactly what I did with my Pick 3 winning ticket. As per protocol, I filled out my prize claim paperwork in its entirety (two pages in length). I provided government-issued photo identification. I provided the winning lottery ticket with my signature on it. And the ticket itself was purchased via my personal credit card.
So, what was the problem? Well, as per usual, an OLG representative said that they were unsure if I was the actual purchaser of that lottery ticket. Can you believe it?
So it was that the prize claim was denied. And even though I had a pre-arranged appointment at OLG Prize Centre, I was frog-marched out of the centre by security guards. I was being treated like a criminal, even though it was the OLG that was robbing me of my jackpot!
I know my boss, Ezra Levant, rightly loathes what he calls “homemade lawyering.” But I didn’t need a lawyer for this case — it was slam-dunk. The OLG did not have a leg to stand on. But that’s the point: even though the OLG knows it is going to lose, as the saying goes, “the process is the penalty.” I had to incur costs and the OLG got to “rag the puck” for almost a year before paying out. Outrageous.
And so it was that I paid $100 to file a small claims lawsuit. Recently I had my day in court (mediation, actually). I went up against the OLG’s high-priced Bay Street lawyer, Carlos Sayao He/Him. Now, as per the terms of the non-disclosure agreement that I signed, I cannot tell you what happened in the mediation process, nor can I tell you the monetary award I was given. Let’s just say the sum covered the lottery prize and my court costs and, yes, I’ll also be able to buy another Pick 3 lottery ticket… several tickets, actually.
But the point is, it should never have gotten to this stage in the first place. Clearly the shysters running the OLG have learned nothing from that scathing Ombudsman’s report back in 2007.
And by the way, here’s why you should care about this if you happen to be a resident of Ontario: I’d bet the ranch that the legal fees the OLG paid to Mr. Sayao He/Him far exceeded the amount awarded to me. Lawyers like Mr. Sayao He/Him do not come cheap. But at the end of the day, who is REALLY paying Mr. Sayao He/Him? Well, that would be you, Mr. & Ms. ever-beleaguered Ontario taxpayer. And to think this was all about lottery bureaucrats carrying out a grudge against a journalist who continues to expose their odious behaviour? Shameful.
And in the department of “insult to injury”, let us not forget that the OLG justifies its lottery monopoly on the concept of “social responsibility.” Ha! Methinks the odds of this Crown corporation operating in a socially responsible fashion would make even the most reckless gambler cringe…