Woman Loses $545,222 Of Boss's Money Playing Poker Machines

An Australian woman has been sentenced to 18 months in prison after her gambling addiction lead to her blowing $545,222 of her employer’s money on poker machines, over a two year period.
This latest story is just one of many highlighting the growing concern of many Australians for the increase in popularity of ‘pokies’, which account for $12 billion of the $18 billion spent gambling by Australians each year.
In 2009, a government Productivity Commission report concluded that 15% of poker machine players were problem gamblers, with the Wesley Mission citing a big part of the problem as the pokies’ settings, which meant loses of up to $1200 an hour were possible for addicts.
In this latest incident, Barbara Elizabeth Wells (39) worked as a property manager with Davis Property Consulting at Mascot but told the court that domestic violence led her to becoming hooked on poker machines back in 2006. Despite syphoning off a few thousand dollars, her addiction soon escalated and before long Wells started transferring up to $15,000 a time into three of her own accounts with 100% of the money being spent on poker machines.
Solicitor Peter Cleaves highlighted the fact that Barbara Wells showed no sophistication in her method of transferring her employer’s money into her own account, and that when she played the pokies, she was like a ‘zombie’ where nothing else mattered.
After pleading guilty to 10 charges of theft for $106,327, and asking to have 119 other charges of theft for $438,895 taken into consideration, Barbara Wells was sentenced to 18 months in jail. However, she was granted 6 months parole and on May 14th it will be decided if she will spend the 12 months detention in prison or in her own home.
Summing up the case, magistrate Sharron Crews said: “It is sad that the whole situation was to feed your gambling addiction that developed as a result of your exposure to domestic violence and your position in a previous relationship.”

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