UK Gambling Addict Stole More Than a Million From Employer to Fund Gambling Habit

Posted on: December 20, 2018, 09:36h. 

Last updated on: December 20, 2018, 09:36h.

A UK man who stole more than a million dollars from the company that employed him is speaking out about what drove him to do it.

UK Gambling Addict
Chris Girling was caught dipping into his company’s accounts to play online slots. (Image: Eastern Daily Press)

Chris Girling recently pleaded guilty to embezzling £1 million ($1.26 million) from the Premier Education Group, a company that provides physical education programs to schools across the UK.

As the man in charge of the company’s accounts and finances, he was well positioned to pilfer as much cash as he wanted.

“When I printed off those first lots of bank statements, I had to run to the toilet to be sick because that’s the first time I really knew how much I’d stolen,” Girling told ITV News.

For a period of more than three years, starting in March of 2014, Girling was moving money from company accounts to his own personal accounts.

Every morning, he’d wake up and start playing the virtual slots – $125 per spin every few seconds – sometimes blowing more than $20,000 in a day.

“It’s a silent addiction,” notes Girling, who is facing up to five years in jail. “You can do it on your phone all day every day. You could quite easily walk past someone in the street who has it.

A recent survey found that 1.4 percent of the population of people between 25- and 34-years old are considered problem gamblers in the UK.

Waiting for the Call

Girling admits that, even though he was being fueled by addiction, he knew that what he was doing was wrong.

He says the cycle of slots and stealing spiraled until he started to consider suicide.

The online gaming operators who took his business treated Girling like a VIP. He was spending so much on a daily basis that they would reward him with expensive junkets to horse races in Dubai and Britain’s Royal Ascot.

The Norwich man sounds as if he wished he would have been caught sooner. At the very least, he was surprised that his bosses didn’t catch on to what he was doing.

“In the days after I first did it, I was on edge,” he told ITV. “Every phone call, every email I was expecting someone to say, ‘can you come and see me, we have found out’.”

They did find out, but not until three years, and more than a million dollars, later. Girling says he’s paid back about $141,000 and plans to sell his home to pay his former employer back even more.

As for the coming jail sentence, he reports that he’s already packed his bags.

Lifting From the Bosses’ Pockets

Such emboldened embezzlement is no rarity.

The story has shades of another recent criminal incident in the UK — this one featuring a man who stole from a company that had employed him for almost 20 years.

Paul Hawrkidge was the finance manager for a UK-based international shipping company. However, he spent the last five years of his employment stealing $4.8 million dollars to fuel his gambling addiction.

He’s been sentenced to a six-year jail term.