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Government not safe from gambling

Press Release

Government not safe from gambling [16.05.06]

“Gambling-related crime can affect anyone, and any employer – including government departments,” says David Coom, South Island Regional Manager for the Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand (PGF).

“It is happening more and more frequently, and Christchurch is forging its status as crime-capital of New Zealand,” says John Stansfield, CEO for PGF.

“When someone steals from an employer and gambles that money, that person is punished, the employer is punished, that person’s family and friends are punished, and every working person in New Zealand is punished when they pay for the cost of the trial and incarceration,” says Mr Stansfield.

“And in this instance, New Zealanders are paying twice as the money was stolen from tax payers via a government department, and taxpayers will pay for his prosecution,” says Mr Coom.

“Pokie machines are to blame. Pokies account for 90% of gambling problems,” says Coom.

“There will be an enormous amount of pain and grief within that family,” says Coom.

Each year over 5000 New Zealanders are convicted of gambling-related crimes. On a steadily increasing basis, there are reports of fraud, money-laundering and theft for people to fund their gambling problems.

“A 2004 KPMG study found that gambling was the second highest motivator for serious property crime, and the highest motivator for fraud,” says Stansfield.

Recent cases of gambling-related crime by professionals in Christchurch include:

- Christchurch lawyer stole $700,000 from his sick client for gambling and his lifestyle (April 2006)
- Trusted employee from a car hire company stole $16,793 from his employer for his gambling problem (October 2005)
- Machinery operator stole $231,399 from his employer for gambling (October, 2005)
- Board member stole $22,382 from a trust for a gambling problem (August, 2005)
- Manager of a Sumner restaurant stole more that $16,000 for a gambling problem (August, 2005)
- Key accounts manager stole $265,944 for gambling (June, 2005)
- Christchurch bank teller embezzled $380,800 for gambling on pokies (April, 2005)
- Business woman stole $186,000 to gamble at Christchurch Casino (March, 2005)
- Hong Kong used car salesman swindled $275,000 from Chinese students (March 2005)
- Salesman conned customers out of $27,750 to feed a gambling problem (September, 2004)
- Woman stole $3000 from her employer and faked a burglary to fund her gambling problem (March, 2004)
- Woman stole $10,000 from her employer to fund her husband’s gambling problem (March, 2004)
- Woman stole $9012 from her employer to fund a gambling problem (August, 2003)
- Christchurch lawyer stole $1.78million by fraud and forgery to gamble at Christchurch Casino (March, 2003)

“These people are not career criminals. Before and after their gambling, they are often model family members and members of the community. They could be our loved ones, our workmates and our neighbours. When we look at the big picture we can see that problem gambling has harmed us all in some way,” says Stansfield.

“However, it is not all doom and gloom. PGF provide free and confidential services to anyone with – or affected by – problem gambling. All you have to do is call us free on 0800 664 262.”


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