A judge in Melbourne, Australia overseeing a lawsuit accused gaming operator Ladbrokes of grooming a gambling addict, who then stole $3.1 million from a concrete business to feed his addiction.
Jaicome Spinella stole the money from Bauen Concrete between December 2016 and July 2017 to feed his Ladbrokes account. Spinella ran the company with his brother and friend, and the concrete company was forced to liquidate in the aftermath, costing around 50 employees their jobs.
When the company went belly up, the liquidators overseeing the case sued Ladbrokes for $5.1 million, as they accuse the group of grooming Spinella to spend the money. Lawyers for the liquidator obtained internal emails from the company that reportedly roughly say "that gamblers like Spinella come along once in a lifetime, so make sure we keep him on".
This led to the judge saying that Ladbrokes does have a role to play in this crime, noting: "There does appear to be some level of interference ... if not exploitation by Ladbrokes."
Spinella admitted to his crimes and has worked with investigators to help unravel the case. He was taken into custody and is scheduled to be sentenced in the case soon. He faces a jail sentence as the judge says the amount of money stolen was too severe to avoid the defendant serving time.
If you or someone you know is suffering from gambling addiction, we urge you to seek help. We have a responsible gaming page that is full of resources.