Well it's clear from Leanne's own experience that if she could lose much less, she wouldn't have developed the pathological gambling problem that she did.
Do you agree with the above quote? I think that any amount is too much if it becomes an addiction problem.. I'm not against gambling but I agree that if the Hotel staff knew how much she was spending per week, alarm bells had to go off, (1) where was she getting all of this money and (2) she's obviously addicted big time, and should have been banned as per the law here in Australia from entering the pokie areas of these Hotels.
I am not sure what happens overseas, and it would be interesting for me, to find that out as well.
What do you guys think ? Feel sorry for her 11 year old daughter and the two cats.....
LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: The social scourge of problem gambling has recently been the subject of intense political debate. But it's rare to see up close and personal the heartbreak it can cause.
Tonight a single mother who was a financial administrator in Adelaide is getting ready to go to jail. She stole more than $800,000 from her employers to feed her poker machine addiction.
Leanne Scott will be sentenced tomorrow. She's spent the past two days packing up her life and she shared her story with our reporter Guy Stayner.
LEANNE SCOTT: I'm a pathological gambler on poker machines and unfortunately I've stolen some money from previous employees to fund that addiction.
GUY STAYNER, REPORTER: How much did you steal?
LEANNE SCOTT: It was just over $800,000.
GUY STAYNER: Leanne Scott is packing up her belongings preparing for the big move. Today she was saying goodbye to her pets. She's sending two cats to the RSPCA. While the scenes are familiar for anyone who has shifted home, this otherwise typical single mum isn't going interstate or overseas. She's getting ready to go to jail.
How did all this begin?
LEANNE SCOTT: The gambling? It started socially, probably back in the late '90s, where I would go out on a social basis with $5 or $10, and I still remember my first win of $250 and it sort of spiralled from there. It was like, "Wow, I can win money on these things." Biggest win would have been about $10,000, yeah. And I think the wins probably make you - or made me wanna go back and win more. You get very greedy and you just wanna win more. But it all goes back into the machines.
GUY STAYNER: How much were you gambling?
LEANNE SCOTT: It varied from $1,000. Near the end, I wouldn't go into a hotel without $1,000 in my purse and quite often I would be taking out more from the ATM.
GUY STAYNER: So how much money do you estimate you were spending on the poker machines each week?
LEANNE SCOTT: Each week: anywhere between $4,000 and $6,000. I wanted to win more money so I needed to spend more money and unfortunately I turned to stealing.
GUY STAYNER: Leanne Scott stole from two employees. First from mining company Newmont and more recently from Accolade Wines.
How were you able to steal so much money?
LEANNE SCOTT: I had access to certain files that I manipulated to redirect funds into my personal account. And I guess I was just lucky or unlucky that the auditors never picked that up.
GUY STAYNER: Did you ever stop and think, "I'm ruining my life. I can't go on like this."
LEANNE SCOTT: It was - I had a very "I don't care" attitude at the time. I knew what I was doing was wrong, but the urge to play the machines was so great, I just needed the money to play the machines.
GUY STAYNER: Leanne Scott's losses were almost entirely at three hotels in Adelaide's south. She was spending four nights a week playing the pokies.
How much money do you estimate you lost inside those doors?
LEANNE SCOTT: I dread to think. Probably $300,000 or $400,000.
GUY STAYNER: And how much were you earning at the time?
LEANNE SCOTT: I was earning clear $750 a week. If I walked in there, they would still remember me. They knew me by name.
NICK XENOPHON, INDEPENDENT SENATOR: Leanne was actually losing more than $1,000 an hour and yet the venues didn't even intervene, didn't even tap her on the shoulder to say, "Have you got a problem?"
GUY STAYNER: So the staff had a pretty good idea that you were turning over about $5,000 or $4,000 a week?
LEANNE SCOTT: Absolutely, yep, yep.
GUY STAYNER: And yet no-one ever stopped you.
LEANNE SCOTT: No-one ever said anything, no.
GUY STAYNER: Anti-pokie campaigner Senator Nick Xenophon wants to help Leanne Scott in prison.
NICK XENOPHON: I support Leanne because she's taken responsibility for her actions. She's not asking for sympathy, but she wants to warn other people about the consequences of gambling addiction, what it can lead to. And if one person comes forward to get help tomorrow or the next day as a result of Leanne speaking out, then it's been worth it.
GUY STAYNER: How does Leanne's story support your push for $1 maximum bets.
NICK XENOPHON: Well it's clear from Leanne's own experience that if she could lose much less, she wouldn't have developed the pathological gambling problem that she did.
GUY STAYNER: Would you be in this position if there were maximum bets on poker machines?
LEANNE SCOTT: I don't believe I would be. If they lowered the maximum, yeah. I don't think I'd be in this position.
GUY STAYNER: A recent study found poker machines were the most regular mode of gambling for addicts who commit fraud. And like Leanne Scott, 88 per cent of gambling addicts who steal money from their employer have no criminal history.
What are you expecting will happen tomorrow with your sentence?
LEANNE SCOTT: I'm expecting to go to prison.
GUY STAYNER: Do you deserve to go to jail?
LEANNE SCOTT: I do.
GUY STAYNER: Why?
LEANNE SCOTT: 'Cause I've broken the law. I just can maybe only hope for a little bit of leniency.
GUY STAYNER: Leanne Scott will be sentenced in Adelaide's Magistrate's Court tomorrow morning. Based on recent cases, she can spec to spend the next two years in the Adelaide Women's Prison.
How does somebody prepare themselves for going to jail?
LEANNE SCOTT: Yeah, I - I don't know. I've - I had to say goodbye to my 11-year-old daughter a couple of days ago. It's extremely hard. It's really, really hard.
GUY STAYNER: What did you tell her?
LEANNE SCOTT: I just told her the truth. I don't think she could quite grasp how much money is involved. She knows the amount, but I don't think she grasps what that could - that could be two houses, you know. But, yeah, she knows mummy's probably going to jail.
LEIGH SALES: How sad. Guy Stayner reporting.
MINUTES before being jailed for stealing $810,000 from her former employers, Leanne Scott warned others of the dangers of gambling addiction.
In the Adelaide Magistrates Court today Scott, 42, of Old Reynella was sentenced to at least two years jail for her crimes committed between January 2004 and September last year.
Before being sentenced, Scott cried as she urged others to seek help to overcome problem gambling.
"I'm not here to make excuses or seek sympathy," she said.
"I want to appeal to everyone who has a problem with pokies or is on the road to getting hooked to tell someone to please help them."
Scott said she had spent up to four nights each week gambling through the pokies at the Lonsdale Hotel, Crown Inn at Old Reynella and Woodcroft Tavern.
In sentencing, Magistrate Bob Harrap said Scott had not personally profited from the $810,000 she stole from Newmont Mining Services and Accolade Wines.
He said all of the money was spent feeding her pathological gambling habit and that a doctor's report, tendered to the court, reiterated that point.
"(Scott's) motivation was not for personal monetary gain but rather to fund her addiction," the report said.
"It was not to profit her personally but for the rather dubious pleasure of gambling."
Scott worked in the accounts department of both companies - first for Newmont between November 2002 and February 2007 and then for Accolade until last November.
Mr Harrap said when she was arrested for stealing from Newmont, which was discovered during an internal audit, Scott told Accolade of the charges and confessed to stealing from the company also.
"Your co-operation, particularly with Accolade, and being prepared to acknowledge your offending, sit down with them and talk them through how you did it is entirely consistent with your genuine remorse and contrition," he said.
Anti-gambling campaigner, Senator Nick Xenophon, appeared in court with Scott this morning and provided a letter to Mr Harrap.
Mr Xenophon said Scott's case was "tragic" and he hoped others would learn from her experience.
"I have personally undertaken to Leanne to provide ongoing support to her during any period of incarceration and to ensure she receives ongoing gambling rehabilitation services," the letter said.
Mr Harrap sentenced Scott to six years imprisonment with a non-parole period of two years.
He said he considered her contrition, co-operation and the impact a jail term would have on Scott's 11-year-old daughter.
"But your offending is simply too serious, it involved too much money and involved a breach of trust over a long period of time," he said.