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Self-exclusion technicality costs Canadian punter a huge collect

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HOW would you feel if you won $10,000 on the pokies, but were told you couldn’t collect – because you had self excluded yourself from the venue nearly two decades ago?

That’s what happened to a poor soul in Canada last month.

John Marando was reportedly feeding the jukebox at the Mohawk Racetrack and Casino in Ontario, Canada, last week, when he cleaned up on the jackpot to the tune of almost $10,000.

Little did he know that a photo of himself was hanging on the wall at the venue and, when he told staff of the winnings, they recognised the 82 year old.

“We can’t pay you, you signed yourself out 17 years ago,” Marando says he was told by staff.

Under different forms of self exclusion world wide, problem gamblers can have themselves effectively banned from a venue by letting staff know they don’t want to be allowed to gamble there any more.

In Ontario, local laws prohibit people who have self excluded themselves from a venue from winning any prizes.

But the twist in this tale is that Mr Marando had a brain operation and cannot recall self excluding himself from the venue all those years ago.

And, as any normal person would, he is demanding the casino to hand over the princely jackpot, hiring a lawyer to help him battle the case in court.

“I can’t remember 17 years ago, I’m 17 years older and I’ve had a brain operation about eight years ago.

“I’m not going to let them get away with it.”

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And neither should he. He told The National Post the venue was happy to pay out amounts of $1000 “a couple of times” from the same machine.

And then, last month, he cleaned up: “All of a sudden ding, ding, ding, and I see this thing going round and round, one thousand, two thousand… $10,000, and $10,002, by the way.”

Paul Pellizzari, of Ontario Lottery and Gaming, said: “People who are self-excluded need to know that prizes will be dis-entitled if they’re detected at a gaming facility and this is part of our support to them, part of our way of living up to the commitment to themselves to stay away from gambling.”

But it begs the question, if he was self excluded, shouldn’t the betting shop have stopped his betting in the first place?

If they weren’t good enough to pick up the fact he was banned when he was losing on the machines – and winning small amounts – how can they now turn around and say he is not entitled to winnings that he procured with his own money on their machines?

“I won $400 that morning,” he said.

“They paid me the $400 and five minutes later I hit the jackpot for $10,000.”

Makes you wonder.

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