Cascades Casino, a gaming property in British Columbia, Canada, is facing accusations of discrimination after its security guards twice denied entry to a woman with a speech impediment, lupus, arthritis, and learning disabilities.
The guards mistakenly assumed the woman was intoxicated, leading to a situation that left her feeling singled out and traumatized.
A Misunderstanding with Serious Consequences
Crystal-Lee Bodnik, a resident of Surrey, attempted to enter Cascades Casino on July 22. Despite presenting identification and explaining her disabilities and limitations, the security guards refused her entry, claiming she was “intoxicated” and “stumbling.” Even after requesting to speak to a manager, Bodnik was unable to gain access to the casino.
Bodnik expressed her distress to Global News, stating, “I felt like I was being singled out just because of the way I talk and it’s not my fault. It’s actually traumatizing. I want to cry about it.”
Casino’s Response and Ongoing Investigation
In response to the incident, Cascades Casino Langley stated that it is “looking into this incident.” Tanya Gabara, the casino’s director of public relations, added, “We are reaching out to the customer and will work with her to gather the facts of the situation and take any learnings into consideration for future customer interactions.”
Bodnik revealed that this was not the first time she had been mistaken for being intoxicated. She has faced similar misunderstandings with police officers. To help clarify her condition in public, she carries medical notes from physicians, including psychiatrists, explaining her condition. However, even with these notes, she still faces challenges and feels embarrassed to go anywhere.
A Call for Greater Awareness and Sensitivity
Bodnik hopes that by sharing her experiences, she can encourage casino staff and others to change their behavior and be more sensitive and accepting of individuals with disorders. She also expressed concern that others with medical conditions may have faced similar treatment at the casino.
Elaine Boyd, executive director of Disability Alliance BC, a regional advocacy organization, echoed Bodnik’s concerns. She highlighted that individuals with disabilities, such as speech impediments, multiple sclerosis, ataxia, and cerebral palsy, are often mistakenly believed to be intoxicated. Boyd called for improvements in the law and regulations to ensure adequate “accessibility training to mitigate further situations like this.”
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