Perspectives from a Mediator/Arbitrator

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Super Bowl Sunday and Gambling

My father's extended family always gets together before the Christmas holidays for a gathering. My father, who is the eldest in his family of four, and all of his brothers and sisters and their children and their children's children gather for lunch here in Toronto (at least all of those who are able to make it). My grandparents, when they were alive, came and enjoyed this gathering of the extended clan. About twenty-five years ago, one of my cousins met and then married Dave. Ever since Dave has been coming to the party, we have been having a Super Bowl "raffle". The way it works is that all the playoff teams are put in a hat (but at the time of the draw we do not know who exactly will be the playoff teams so we just right down things like "NFC West" or "AFC wildcard #2") and for a "toonie" you get a team. It is a whole bunch of fun and if you win you are able to pocket about 24 dollars. Last year my son Clarke was lucky enough to draw the piece of paper that became the New England Patriots - Super Bowl Champions of Super Bowl 39.

This year I was lucky enough to pull "NFC West" which is the Seattle Seahawks who will face off tonight against the Pittsburgh Steelers. I expect the Steelers to win but with "money on the line" I am sure to be watching to see how the Seahawks do. That is all I have riding on the game!

I was surprised to hear this week on the radio that the expectations are that in Las Vegas there will be approximately 100 million dollars bet on the game. Off-shore gambling is expected to be over 400 million dollars! I have placed a bet on the game that is the same as a the price of a cup of coffee - there will be no change at all in my life whether I win or lose. But, with those kinds of dollars being bet out there some people must be betting the cost of a child's bike, the cost of a modest car or in some cases the price of a house! Accepting that there may be some people who can afford to lose these amounts and not have it impact their life, there also must be some who can't. When they do lose (and the one thing you can be sure of in any gambling is it is designed to make sure the "house" wins not the gambler), what impact will that have on the person's life, family and/or job?

Alcohol and drugs are widely accepted now as addictions and when a person can explain that his/her behaviour is caused by the addiction, the duty to accomodate the handicap to the point of undue hardship will arise (Ontario law). I will leave to you to do your own review of the case law to determine how it arises and the impact of it doing so. Gambling has traditionally not been treated quite the same way - it will be interesting to watch over the next few years as gambling only seems to be on the rise whether this will change.

Enjoy watching the game tonight. I will. I have nothing more riding on it than the bragging rights of winning the "Laurence C. Raymond Memorial NFL Super Bowl Pool". Go Seahawks!


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