Gambling Theft : Is Your Organization Prepared?

Some major problem gambling news is coming from the NFL this week. However, this time it’s not about players’ violating league sports betting policy. Instead, a former Jacksonville Jaguars executive, Amit Patel, has allegedly admitted to embezzling more than $22 million from the team. Did he do so to buy a private jet? Perhaps to purchase a small island off of the Florida coast? Nope. Instead, his attorney reports that approximately 99% of the misappropriated funds were used to gamble on Daily Fantasy Sports. That’s right, FanDuel and DraftKings were the alleged recipients of around $21,780,000 in DFS wagers from one man, over the span of just 3 years (estimated).

Patel’s lawyer blames it on a gambling addiction, which is Patel is currently under treatment for:

“‘Mr. Patel did not use the Jaguars’ VCC to fund his lifestyle, but in a horribly misguided effort to pay back previous gambling losses that utilized the Jaguars’ VCC program […] Mr. Patel is deeply remorseful and apologizes for his conduct,’ King said. ‘He loved working for the Jacksonville Jaguars and regrets his actions which have resulted in him both losing his dream job and damaging the organization. Mr. Patel remains in treatment and intends to seek ongoing treatment for the foreseeable future.'”


Before you chalk up the “defense” up to an attempt to skirt responsibility, please note that stealing nearly $22 million to bet on DFS over a relatively short period of time isn’t as unrealistic as it sounds. A major study conducted by Men’s Health this past summer uncovered that 20% of higher income males in the United States are in debt due to gambling. Meanwhile, over 50% of American men indicated that they would be willing to wager $10K on a single game if it meant that they could win $1 million. Following that line of compromised thinking, you can see how quickly a succession of large wagers could add up and send someone so deep into debt that the only recourse (as they see it) would be to steal funds from resources they had access to. In Patel’s case, the money was ripe for the picking.

As America’s premier resource of online problem gambling therapy, we can tell you firsthand that gambling theft is indeed one of the primary and most common dangers of sports betting. In fact, research has shown that theft and embezzlement is a near inevitability for the problem gambler:

“Compulsive or pathological gamblers are those who sooner or later suffer heavy losses (often $100 or more at a time), borrow or steal money or write bad checks to pay gambling debts, avoid or can­ not pay their own gambling bills, and lie to their families, friends, and therapists about the extent of their gambling”

Gambling and Crime Among Arrestees: Exploring the Link | U.S. Department of Justice

The DOJ also found that pathological gamblers are three to five times more likely to be arrested for criminal activity like theft and embezzlement than the general population.

No Organization is Safe

The Jacksonville Jaguars’ current tale is an unfortunately common one, and the large scale of theft is not exclusive to employers with multi-billion-dollar valuations. For example, a recent IRS and FBI report noted the indictment of one couple whose gambling activity totaled $4.5 million, on a household annual salary of only $33,333. They stole $2.6 million from their business by forging company checks and filing false tax returns. Meanwhile, an Ellington Connecticut paralegal was sentenced to nearly four years in federal prison for stealing $1.7 million from the law firm she worked at to cover gambling debt. The list of gambling theft and embezzlement related offenses against companies goes on and on, and on. With monthly problem gambling news reporting record-breaking increases in gambling addiction helpline calls, the threat to your organization is only going to get worse for the foreseeable future.

Organizations Must Increase Investment in Problem Gambling Awareness and Support

Every (and we mean every) company in America must increase investment in problem gambling awareness and support. In the recent past, it was recommended that organizations initiate a protocol when it was known or suspected that employees were gambling. But now, it’s better to deduce that some of them are. It’s nearly a foregone conclusion when you consider that among those who have made a sports bet in the past year, 61% do so daily or weekly.

Your organization’s action plan against gambling theft and embezzlement must include the following:

  • Identify level of risk to company that each employee presents (based on access to funds, etc.)
  • Know the signs of (to confirm) employee problem gambling
  • Establish a customized workplace policy about gambling
  • Provide employees with non-judgemental self-reporting access to help

For deeper insight into the bullet points above, and how to build this action plan, please reference Employee Gambling | What Responsibilities Employers Have.

Significantly reduce your organizational risk of gambling theft and embezzlement by reaching out to Kindbridge Behavioral Health today. We will customize a program to account for the unique nature of your company and staff. Click or call below to get started.

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