Businessman Loses £300,000 on Rock, Paper, Scissors, Court Deems the Bet Invalid

April 30th, 2020 11.00am

Gambling can be very addictive, and sometimes can even become a very problematic activity, causing people to lose ridiculously large sums of money.

Some gambling addicts don’t even care what they’re betting on, as long as they have the money to do. And believe us when we tell you that people can place their wagers on really strange things!

Take this Canadian businessman for example, who bet on the game of rock, paper, scissors and lost £300,000!

Taking Things a Bit Too Far

He bet on a best-out-of-three round of this game but refused to pay when lost and even took the case to the court. He definitely won’t have to settle this bet, after the Quebec Court of Appeals ruled the wager was simply too extreme.

Rock, paper, scissors – also known as Roshambo – is a hand game where those involved use their hands to form one of 3 shapes (rock, paper, or scissors, hence the name). The shapes are formed using an outstretched hand, and the game’s rules are simple: rock beats scissors, scissors cut paper, and paper covers rock!

But let’s return to our story.

Back in 2011, two friends, Michael Primeau and Edmund Mark Hooper engaged in a roshambo battle, and to make the game more exciting, they decided to up the ante. After losing the series, and £300,000, Hooper signed a document recognizing his debt, using his mortgage to secure the contract.

However, Hooper said that none of this had ever happened. He explained the contract had been signed as a sort of simulation to prevent Revenu Quebec from seizing his house after his company had gone bankrupt.

A Love Triangle Revealed

The case got a completely new dimension after it was discovered that both Primeau was having an affair with Susanna Iwanov, who was at the time married to Hooper!

Years passed, and Hooper didn’t settle the bet, so in 2017 Primeau decided to take things to court. Once the trial started, the main issue was whether a game of rock, paper, scissors was a game of skill or a game of chance.

Under the provisions of the existing Quebec law, losses sustained through games not regulated by the province can be deemed valid if the outcome of the game relies only on the skill of the players taking part in it, or if the stake is not excessive.

Superior Court Justice Chantal Chatelain judged that Roshambo indeed qualified as the legal wagering game, as it required a certain degree of skill.

Rock, paper, scissors does appear like a game of chance, but as people playing it cannot make completely random decisions, using techniques to anticipate their opponents’ moves can be regarded as skill.

Justice Chatelain stated that the game on certain occasions can be decided by using the skill.

But, Chatelain judged the amount of money the two men wagered was too excessive, which made their contract invalid.

The Appeals Court had the final saying, supporting the initial decision.

Hooper also explained that he hadn’t known that Primeau and his then-wife we’re having an affair when he made the bet and pointed out it had explained why Primeau was so eager to settle this bet.

On the other hand, Primeau and Iwanow denied they had never been involved in a romantic affair. In their decision, Appellate Judges stated the animosity between Hooper and Iwanow wasn’t related to this particular situation.

The complex and tangled relationship between the parties has played an important part in the whole case, but the decision to bet £300,000 on a rock, paper, scissors game does sound a bit far-fetched.



Rock, paper, scissors is a hand game where players form one of 3 shapes.