Deadly gambling addictions to VLT machines


KEVIN NEWMAN: The government of Manitoba announcing a windfall today. Nearly $18 million in revenue from video lottery terminals are going to be used to fund things like libraries and arenas across that province. But this kind of government-sponsored gambling has a darker side to it as well. Here's Global National's Ross Lord.

ROSS LORD (Reporter): The message is familiar.

DON BISHOP (Father of Suicide Victim): They're insidious machines of mass destruction.

LORD: But the messengers are not. A coalition of private citizens going public, determined to show these video lottery terminals are destroying lives across Canada. This Nova Scotia woman is breaking her silence about her husband, who was so tormented by his gambling addiction he burned himself to death.

SHERRY RHYNO (Wife of Suicide Victim): He was a devoted husband and father who loved life. And like many others with VLT addictions, he started by innocently dropping some quarters in a corner store machine.

ELAINE GABRIEL (Mother of Suicide Victim): There's absolutely no question in my mind that these machines must go to prevent any more families going through the heartache.

PHYLLIS VINEBERG (Mother of Suicide Victim): My son had great potential just like my daughter does. He could have paid taxes for many years.

LORD: Phyllis Vineberg's son Trevor thought he'd overcome his VLT addiction. Then her husband discovered Trevor had asphyxiated himself in his car at his parent's garage in Montreal.

VINEBERG: Here's another one. Gambling his life away. This guy is from Saskatchewan. This was Manitoba.

KEITH PIERCEY (Father of Suicide Victim): The machines are programmed so that the Atlantic Lottery Corporation, or Lotto Quebec, or Lotto Ontario are the winners, not the person who's playing it.

BERNIE WALSH (Recovering VLT Addict): The colours and the sounds, and the flashing, it does hypnotize people.

LORD: In Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, governments plan to remove some machines, but no province has imposed an outright ban on VLTs, machines Statistics Canada says generate roughly $3 billion a year for provincial governments across the country. In Halifax, this is Global's Ross Lord reporting.