GAMBLING WITH SCIENCE
Determined to defeat lawsuits over addiction, the casino industry is funding research at a Harvard-affiliated lab.
By Eliza Strickland
Jun. 16, 2008 - Jean Brochu was a respectable attorney in Quebec with a wife and two kids. That was before he first punched the button on a video slot machine in 2000. Within 15 months, Brochu says he was losing $500 a day to the machines. He plunged headlong into debt, and lost his car and his house. He stole $50,000 from his union, and was consequently disbarred for three months. He claims that in several dark moments he contemplated suicide. He also says it was all the fault of those slot machines.
Now Brochu is the lead plaintiff in a massive class action lawsuit against Loto-Quebec, the government agency that runs all forms of gambling in the province. Brochu's lawyer, Roger Garneau, says he filed the suit on behalf of the estimated 119,000 gambling addicts in Quebec province. Garneau says the slot machines dragged these citizens into addiction. "They have been conceived and constructed for trapping the mind," he says. The suit asks for almost $700 million in damages.