There was a point in time when retailers started winning a disproportionate number of jackpots. It became so frequent for the people who sold
to win that officials became suspicious. Robert Bob Edmond was a resident of Coboconk, Ontario. He loved playing the lottery and had been playing it ever since it began in Canada. Today, he is thought of as a true “folk hero” and a “whistleblower who refused to be walked over”.
Robert’s story began on July 27, 2001, when he visited a lottery retailer to check the results of a Super 7 ticket he bought 2 weeks before. He was told, by Phyllis Laplante, the wife of the store owner, that the ticket was a loser. But Robert claims that when Phyllis scanned the ticket he heard the winning jingles (a sound made by the lotto machine after scanning a winning lottery ticket) twice, which meant he had won two separate prizes. Later he would learn that he had won a free ticket and a prize of $250,000. But at the time, Phyllis refused any prize money and only offered him the free ticket he had won.
Later, Phyllis’ husband, Scott Laplante, cashed in Edmond’s lottery ticket. Edmond grew suspicious of Phyllis and her husband and contacted the Ontario Lottery. He became certain that they had lied to him when he read an article about the couple winning $250,000. Edmond lodged a complaint against Phyllis and Scott LaPlante with the Ontario Provincial Police and Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG). The couple was arrested within the month. But OLG took no action on his complaints. Rather than helping Edmonds, the Ontario Lottery fought tooth and nail to avoid paying him.
In 2005, he settled his lawsuits against Laplantes for $150,000, a significantly lower amount than the winnings ticket’s value. He settled because he had become aware of the hard times the couple was going through. He wanted everyone to know that he was honest and that he didn’t cheat but at the same time he was a “gentleman” in the truest sense.
After dropping his lawsuits against Laplantes, he took the Ontario Lottery to court for the remainder of ticket’s value. Later, on March 17, 2005, he settled out-of-court with OLG and LaPlante for $200,000 but they made him sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) which prevented him from talking about what exactly happened. The provincial agency agreed to pay him the remaining $100,000 for the ticket and $25,000 for interest plus $75,000 for legal costs (half of his litigation bill).
In early 2006, producers from a Canadian investigative documentary show named Harvey Cashore and Linda Guerriero reached out to Edmond for information about his case. OLG threatened to sue Edmond if he divulged any details to the producer. Edmonds took a bold step and submitted a court application in the fall of 2006 to free him from the NDA he signed. OLG had to back off and issued a press release to announce that Edmond was free to talk publicly about how he had been treated.
For Robert Edmond, it was a long journey of investigations and trials, and he died in 2007 from cancer, just after things started to come together. To Robert, it was never about the money. He just wanted to restore the people’s faith in OLG again. Even though he is dead now, people still remember him as the Man who ignited OLG investigations. Michael Gough, Chairperson of the Ontario Lottery Corporation, wrote a letter to Edmond, apologizing for their behavior towards him and testifying that his actions changed the way lotteries are run. In the end, Edmond was more than satisfied with the outcomes of his life-long fight.
After getting the letter, he was thrilled. He said that all he wanted was for the lottery corporation to realize that they treated him badly. After his case, there were roughly 214 other cases similar to this one. Robert’s wife, Thresa Edmond said, “he was determined to get the truth out, and he was happy with the final outcomes.” So, he indeed started something and people are grateful!