Lawyers for a Toronto man launched a $1.1 billion class-action lawsuit against Ontario's troubled lottery corporation Wednesday, as the fallout from an investigation into widespread corruption widened.
The suit, filed on behalf of all those who purchased lottery tickets since 1975, proposes a free lottery as a settlement solution.
"The government is responsible for ensuring that [its lottery] is fair, honest and equitable and it would appear that their systems that they have in place haven't achieved that," lawyer Bryan McPhadden said in a telephone interview.
McPhadden said the suit's plaintiff, Boleslaw Karchut, was "miffed" with allegations of corruption and fraud contained in Monday's ombudsman's report.
The report relayed accounts of retailers who fraudulently claimed winning tickets that were not theirs and the "mind-boggling" complicity of the corporation, which made payouts in suspicious circumstances.
Andre Marin concluded that about $15-million was paid to "internal fraudsters," including ticket retailers and their families.
Karchut had on two occasions believed he held winning tickets only to be told he hadn't, his lawyer said. Those situations are now shrouded in doubt following the report.
But shoddy record keeping at the corporation (a fact noted in Monday's report), and the sheer volume of lotteries over the past 32 years will make it difficult to discover specific examples of fraud, McPhadden says.
The suit proposes instead a free lottery worth as much as $1.1-billion, with the money donated by the mammoth government-owned corporation. Free tickets would be issued for every lottery ticket purchased over a six-month period. Rewarding customers for past play would be too difficult, says McPhadden.
"I have bought lottery tickets in the past. Could I tell you which ones, or when, or could I tell you which ones I thought I missed my prize money? We simply cannot do that."
McPhadden has not had any interaction with OLG officials regarding the suit.
"That's just our proposed solution," he said. "We have no idea if the Ontario lottery corporation will go along with it."
Ontario lottery consumers interested in joining the class-action suit can find out how at the website for the law office of McPhadden Samac Merner Barry, www.msmb.ca.
David Caplan, the embattled Liberal minister responsible for the OLG, declined to comment on the free lottery proposal.