We have sadly on occasions, covered stories dealing with theft and fraudulent activity by a small minority of players whose bingo or gambling habit has become such a problem, that they have turned to crime to fund it. Most of these stories have been about players who feed their habit via their local bingo hall, some at famous branded sites such as Mecca Bingo, who have a huge number of halls across the country. However, in the latest case of a Stockport based accountant, the individual in question stole from their employer to fund their online bingo addiction.
Mother and professional accountant, Maria Parsonage, had developed a dangerous internet gambling habit via online bingo sites and was losing on average £30 every day to her addiction. Parsonage had become a trusted employee, her employers so confident in her honesty that she was even allowed to pay herself her own wage from company funds. However Parsonage took advantage of this trust and took extra funds to pay off her mounting debts. The guilty woman admitted five separate counts of fraud, and was sentenced to 200 hours of unpaid work.
The magistrates at Stockport ruled that she didn’t have to pay back the stolen funds, said to total £4,350 because she did not have the capital available to do so. Previous to this particular crime, the court learned that Parsonage’s online bingo habit had been ongoing for many years, dating back as far back as 2007. In fact, she had even taken out high street loans to attempt to fund her addiction.
In her defence, Howard Bernstein remarked that her case was an example of a ‘very worrying’ trend developing in online gambling as it is much easier to access and much easier to get hooked. Parsonage herself has been regularly attending Gamblers Anonymous who provided a letter of support for her case and this combined with her defence and an expenditure form detailing that her outgoings outweigh her family’s earnings; it was deemed she did not have to pay back the debt.
Her victim of course, is understandably disappointed with this outcome and speaking to the local press, they asserted that the result of the case sends out completely the wrong message.
Online bingo is a popular hobby across the UK and interest in it grows year on year. With this in mind, it is clear to see that like all forms of gambling habit and addiction are possible consequences. However, there are agencies such as GamCare who specialise in supporting those with addictions or who are worried about their habit. What’s more, The Rank Group, parent of Mecca Bingo runs its own dedicated website designed to help you enjoy gambling responsibly. With these measures in place, there is a safety net for those at risk of their habit spiralling out of control.