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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Leanne Michelle Scott pokie addict jailed

Leanne Michelle Scott 42, is a poker machine addict who stole $800,000 from two employers over seven years.  Although she takes full responsibility for her actions, she feels that staff at the three venues where she gambled so much money away, should have approached her to ask if she had a gambling problem.

Dream on Miss Scott, it's never going to happen, you are a big girl who never expected to get caught, nobody held a gun to your head and the sympathy you can expect to get is zero.  A bit harsh?  Probably, but she pursued a path she must have known would end in tears, and crying about it when she got caught just doesn't wash.

Gambling has been firmly embedded in our culture since Adam was a boy.  We bet on anything, sporting events, political elections, two flies crawling up a wall, you name it.  And it's not only poker machines in pubs and clubs that are a problem, you can gamble your life away sitting at your computer at home 24/7.

Andrew Wilkie tried in vain to do something but he was naive in my view, the more people gamble, the more taxes get paid to state governments.  "The state government rakes in close to $1 million in gambling taxes day after day" South Australian Senator Nick Xenophone said yesterday, so things are unlikely to change.

Scott pleaded guilty to 41 counts of theft but admitted to another 195 incidents.  She created false employee expense claims and fake customer accounts and siphoned off the money into her account.    She played the poker machines at three Adelaide hotels and said "Why is it that while I was losing $1,000 and $2,000 every night, and being at the machines for hours on end, no one approached me to ask if I had a gambling problem?"  She went on "I'm not here to make excuses, I just want to warn people that it could happen to anyone."

Magistrate Bob Harrap said the offence was too serious for a suspended sentence and imposed a six year jail term with a two year non-parole period.  He was convinced of her genuine remorse and contrition by her honest account of how she stole the money and her guilty plea.

"Upon your release from custody, you will find yourself without employment and will struggle to find work and you will not have a house to go back to, I accept that" he said. "I am particularly conscious of the impact upon your relationship with your daughter."  The court heard how Scott agreed to sell her house and surrender the profits but she only had $20,000 equity to offer.

Australian Hotels Association chief executive Ian Horne said the government and the gaming industry spent $6 million every year on services to help problem gamblers which is a pathetic amount of money given by an industry worth billions.  "Leanne never sought those services and we wish she had" her father said.

Meanwhile Southern Cross University's Dr Sally Gainsbury surveyed 6680 people on gambling, 2270 were internet gamblers and of those, 450 called themselves 'problem gamblers'.  Their losses averaged out at $825 a month.