The Casino de Montréal: public safety is at risk



    MONTREAL, Sept. 19 /CNW Telbec/ - The lock out of security agents at the
Casino de Montréal has created a situation in which compulsive gamblers and
other banned individuals are having no difficulty accessing an establishment
left without professional protection. The union representing 193 security
agents locked out by Loto-Québec since August 27 made the observation during a
press conference today outside the casino on Montreal's Ile Notre-Dame.
    "Loto-Québec is risking not only the security of its clients at the
Casino de Montréal, but is also playing with taxpayer funds," said Rick
Scopelletti, president of the Syndicat des employées et des employées de la
Société des casinos du Québec (CSN). "We know that compulsive gamblers on the
self-exclusion list and all sorts of banned individuals have been easily
gaining access to the casino since August 27. Since we've been outside, we see
their cars in the parking lot all the time."
    This past Monday, the trial for a class-action suit claiming almost
$1 billion from Loto-Québec by players addicted to video lottery terminals
began at the Palais de justice in Quebec City. The lawsuit, which survived
seven years of legal challenges, claims $4,800 for each of 119,000 compulsive
gamblers.
    "The only self-exclusion program that really works at Loto-Québec's
casinos is the one at the Casino de Montréal, So, not only is Loto-Québec not
meeting its social obligations at the Casino de Montréal regarding the
phenomenon of gambling addiction," said Mr. Scopelletti, "but they are
gambling with our money!"
    In fact, last week, a player who had been banned from the casino after
having physically attacked another client in 2007, was able to enter the
casino and win a jackpot worth $1.175 million. In an attempt to cover up this
scandal, Loto-Québec lifted the ban on the spot. However, the crown
corporation did not choose to publicize the jackpot, as is its habit, in its
advertising or publications.
    The union wrote Quebec Finance Monique Jérôme-Forget this week to warn
her of the risks that Loto-Québec runs by employing untrained managers as its
security force.
    "If these managers are not able to identify unwelcome visitors or those
who have put themselves on the exclusion list, how will they be able to handle
a major incident?" asked Mr. Scopelletti in his letter. "Imagine the
consequences of a fire without competent personnel to calmly evacuate the
casino as the crowd rushes the exits."
    Alain Desrivières, an exclusion list specialist, explained that about
10,000 expulsions of banned individuals are carried out every year. "We know
them. It's always the same people. However, an inexperienced manager who
hasn't been trained will not be familiar with the strategies of a compulsive
gambler to outwit the casino's security," said Mr. Desrivières.
    Gaétan Châteauneuf, the president of the CSN Conseil Central de Montréal
Métropolitain, questioned the motives behind Loto-Québec's lock out. "The only
disagreement between the two parties concerns the work schedule for the
employees; there is no financial impact whatsoever," Mr. Châteauneuf noted.
"This wasn't even a demand by the union. And for this minor difference
Loto-Québec finds it necessary to risk the security of its clientele?"
    The collective agreement for the security agents expired 18 months ago.
The work schedule problem is the only reason an agreement-in-principle
concluded August 1 was rejected by the union's membership in a secret ballot.

    The Syndicat des employés de la Société des casinos du Québec is
affiliated with the Fédération des employées et employés de services publics
(FEESP-CSN).




For further information:

For further information: Lyle Stewart, CSN Communications Service, (514)
796-2066


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