Addiction to gambling is not uncommon as more and more people turn to gambling in an attempt to make some quick bucks. But what many gamblers don’t realise is the effect it can have on them and their families. Small wagers often turn into bigger amounts, and all of a sudden they are staring at a huge debt – all because of gambling. The main issue here is that in the hopes of winning more and clearing their gambling debt, they wager more money. It’s a vicious cycle, which is difficult to stop.
An ex-policeman turned bar manager was in a similar situation recently. To feed his gambling addiction, Conor Summersgill managed to embezzle £27,000 from the bar that he worked at. In the course of a year, he carried out 100s of fake refunds. The incident only came to light when another staff member noticed a high amount of refunds in one night. That night he had refunded almost £2,000.
He questioned what he was doing and reported the incident. After an internal investigation, the bosses at the Paramount bar discovered that Summersgill had embezzled £27,760 between 1 April 2014 and 7 February 2015. When he was confronted, he immediately admitted to the offence. Apparently, this father-of-one is thousands of pounds in debt.
To be sentenced, he appeared at Aberdeen Sheriff Court. He was already warned that he will face jail time when he admitted to the offence earlier in the month. Summersgill is originally from Inverurie and the defence agent, Jamie Baxter said that his client was very regretful for what he had done. In fact, he has already paid back £11,600.
A social work report had been prepared. Reading from it, Mr Baxter said that his client, Mr Summersgill really had nothing to show for his offence, but only a huge debt, damaged personal relationships and a criminal record. He went on to say that his client was addicted to online slot machines. It was a problem that spiralled out of control very soon. So, in an attempt to feed his addiction and also pay off his piling credit card debt, he started taking money from the bar where he worked.
Mr Baxter said that this particular scheme was not sophisticated at all. All Summersgill had to do was hit the refund button, which was available to all the managers who were on the till. This made him unable to control his gambling and betting urges. This further led him to take money easily.
The court also heard that when he was finally caught, he told his partner – also the mother of the child. This led to an end in their relationship. He moved in with his parents and started attending specialist counselling sessions that were paid by his parents. The facility viewed his gambling addiction like any other addiction to drugs or drinking.
He had been put on a customised plan and he was doing very well until he relapsed in December 2015. At the time, his parents were away and he was alone at home with access to a laptop as well as money. But since then provisions were in place to make sure that he no longer has any control over his cash.
The court heard that Summersgill has managed to get a job as a skilled joiner that pays him about £300 per week. From that he managed to repay £400 to his past employers and £340 towards his credit card debt amount.
Under usual circumstances, this 26 year old would have faced some jail time. But because he has already taken responsibility right from the beginning and has managed to pay back his ex-employers more that £11,600, he has been ordered to carry out 140 hours of unpaid work within the following year. He has narrowly avoided jail by rectifying his intentions and deeds immediately.