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Australian Report: Gambling Drives Thousands to Crime

23 July 2002

AUSTRALIA -- As reported by the (Australian) Herald Sun: "...A Herald Sun investigation found the number of crimes linked to chronic gamblers has exploded since pokies and the casino hit Victoria in the early 1990s. Each year about 450 Victorian gambling addicts admit committing crimes to fund their habit. Problem gamblers were convicted of stealing more than $11.7 million in the past year.

"...About a quarter of problem gamblers in counselling have confessed to crimes.

"First-time criminals are stealing from their children, friends, bosses and sporting clubs.

"Some commit large-scale embezzlement and tax and social security fraud.

"Other desperate punters have become involved in prostitution, blackmail, loan-sharking, armed holdups, petty theft, purse-snatching and domestic violence.

"...But gaming industry interests say the number of gambling crimes has been exaggerated by clever lawyers using an `addiction defence' to earn sympathy from the courts.

"...Gaming Minister John Pandazopoulos said the State Government was committed to tackling the problem."

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