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Lawmakers in Australia are working on a plan that will clean up the gambling industry and create safeguards that will help citizens stay clear of gambling addiction. For one finance clerk, the help did not come quick enough.
Dinesh Enoka Abeysuriya pleaded guilty this week to fraud in connection with the charity for which he worked. Abeysuriya was charged with stealing over one and a half million dollars from the charity to fuel his online gambling habit.
Internet sports betting was the gambling option of choice for Abeysuriya, according to officials. The finance clerk would double bill some vendors, and inflate the price on others. The money that was left over after the original bills were paid to United Care Queensland, trading as Blue Care.
Twenty-six transactions in all were found to be fraudulent. Of the stolen funds, around $600,000 has been recovered. The other roughly $900,000 was not recovered. The guilty man ran his fraud scheme from March of 2009 to April of 2010. Once he was found out, the man attempted to flee to his hometown in Sri Lanka, but he was caught and went back to Australia to surrender.
Gambling has been at the forefront of several disturbing fraud cases in recent months. The most appalling of the cases involved a woman who claimed to have brain cancer. The woman convinced family members that she needed money to pay for her treatment, but then took the over $300,000 and gambled it at a casino, according to a close former friend.
Gambling opponents often point to the possibility of gambling addiction as a reason to slow gaming expansion. In most cases, however, the fraud takes place in areas where not a lot of help is offered to those with a gambling problem. Australian lawmakers, led by Nick Xenophon, are attempting to change the current structure of gambling in the country.