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Australian Study: Gamblers in Debt Turning to Crime

3 October 2002

AUSTRALIA – As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald: "Gamblers with large debts may be committing up to 20 per cent of white-collar crime - often against their employers - to continue gambling, win back what they have lost or pay for living expenses, a landmark study has revealed.

"While drug addicts mostly commit crimes against property such as break and enter, the research found problem gamblers turned to fraud and financial theft to feed their habit.

"But unlike for drug addicts, judges did not consider gambling problems to be a mitigating factor in any of the criminal cases examined by University of Technology Sydney law lecturer Penny Crofts. Her study of nearly 2800 district and local court cases in NSW from 1995 to 1999 found nearly one in five of those convicted of larceny or cheque fraud had gambling problems.

"…The gamblers, aged 17 to 71, had stolen, and largely gambled away, about $4.2 million from employers, shops and individuals.

"…Often it was easy for the gamblers to cash false cheques, falsify their employers' books or access the bank accounts of others, and the study warns that many companies had showed poor auditing and internal security in the cases highlighted.

"…Almost two-thirds of the offenders with gambling problems received jail sentences ranging from three months to six years. But few were ordered to undergo counselling or treatment for their gambling problem.

"…The study, for the Casino Community Benefit Fund and which will be presented at a criminologists' conference in Brisbane today, also found most of the gambling-related crimes were committed by people who had no other criminal convictions…"

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