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Gambled money could be recovered

May 2, 2008

Gambled money could be recovered

The Problem Gambling Foundation says New Zealand businesses and insurance companies could be doing a lot more to hold gambling operators accountable for receiving stolen money.

A Christchurch chartered accountant and best-selling author has just been jailed for swindling $560,000 and spending it on gambling and debts. This follows an Auckland accountant who was jailed for stealing $2.6 million last week.

Problem Gambling Foundation CEO John Stansfield says funding gambling debts is the second most common reason for stealing from employers and accounts for the largest amount of money stolen.

"It is time for the victims of these crimes or their insurance companies to become a lot more proactive in recovering their money," he says.

"One of the reasons gambling operators get away with not taking their host responsibility obligations seriously is that the public don't hold them to account.

"There is a lot of shame associated with being a problem gambler so they hide their problems. Businesses are afraid of damaging their credibility if they admit to being ripped off.

"The result is a conspiracy of silence that allows gambling industry to pocket other people's money."

Mr Stansfield says the problem needs to be brought out into the open.

"Sunlight is a great disinfectant," he says.

"There are legal remedies that can be taken to recover money that is stolen to gamble with. We will work with any business or lawyer that wants to explore them.

"We don't allow other forms of anti-social behaviour to go unchallenged and we shouldn't allow the gambling industry to keep money they have enticed from people with a gambling problem.

"We all pay through higher insurance premiums when this money is not recouped."

Mr Stansfield says in some cases lawyers could be making much stronger pleas in mitigation if they understood how commercial gambling was structured to exploit the vulnerable and the obligations gambling operators have to provide a safe gambling environment.

"If more money was recovered as a result of legal action that could also result in reduced sentences and a lower the cost of imprisonment to the taxpayer," he says.


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