In Australia, gambling represents a significant public health issue. Although approximately 0.5-1% of the adult population is experiencing problem gambling, some 250,000-350,000 Australians are experiencing at-risk gambling.
Considering the ongoing pandemic, the online gambling activities in the country have spiked. In fact, a report from September this year suggested that online gambling spend in September skyrocketed. Moreover, last month, a new study funded by Gambling Research Australia revealed that the number of online gamblers doubled in the last 10 years.
An Addictive Gambling Application
Now, a new criminal case from Tasmania reveals that gambling addiction doesn’t necessarily relate to real-money gambling. Rachel Naomi Perri, a Tasmanian resident, became addicted to a gambling game where real money is spent, but there is no real money payout. What is worse is that her addiction resulted in her stealing some $678,788 (AU$940,000) from her employer. In fact, when questioned by the police back in November 2019, she admitted to the crime. Perri also accumulated a five-figure credit card debt and now may be facing a prison sentence.
The game that hooked Perri is called Heart of Vegas, which is advertised as “the best Vegas-style” casino game of 2021. The game offers “social casino games” and even a jackpot. However, while players can purchase tokens by using real money, the game itself doesn’t support real money payouts. In other words, players can use real money to purchase tokens or coins to play and can receive more if they win, but they cannot redeem them for real money.
Perri Completed 475 Fraudulent Transactions
According to ABC News, Perri appeared in the Supreme Court on Monday. Overall, she was charged with 25 counts of computer-related fraud, as well as a single count of fraud. According to the case’s prosecutor, Simone Wilson, Perri has completed a total of 475 fraudulent transactions.
As a result, she stole a total of $678,947 (AU$ $940,221) while she was employed at the Tasmanian Veterinary Hospital. Between 2016 and 2019, Perri was an account manager at the hospital and this is when the fraudulent transactions were completed. While in charge of the hospital’s accounts, she transferred funds from the business bank account to multiple bank accounts and credit cards that belonged to her. Perri’s employer uncovered the frauds only when she was dismissed in 2019.
The Defendant Left the Gambling App On Auto While She Slept
Besides those frauds, the investigation uncovered that Perri has used her husband’s name to fraudulently collect a $21,663 (AU$ $30,000) credit card. Consequently, without his knowledge, she had accumulated $17,330 (AU$ $24,000) in credit card debt.
Greg Barns, the lawyer that represented Perri revealed that she has had problems with gambling ever since she turned 18. Previously, she was convicted for stealing cash from her employer and she even moved to another city to get a fresh start. According to Barns, Perri’s addiction to the application was significant. He outlined that Perri would access the application first thing in the morning and even let it play in auto mode while she was sleeping.
In court, Perri revealed that she was aware that she couldn’t get away with the crime. She acknowledged that she got herself into “much trouble” but decided to keep going until she is caught. Perri added that she was “waiting for a knock on the door from the police.”