Are You Ready to Prevent Gambling-Related Fraud in Your Biz?

An Oregon bookkeeper recently pleaded guilty to stealing more than $70,000 from her employers–money she then used to gamble.

The woman was sentenced to five years in prison, according to OregonLive. The theft started during her first month of employment and continued for about a year. She had prior theft convictions listed under a different last name.

How Can Employers Prevent Gambling-Related Fraud?

Gambling addiction is a condition with roots in biology. It can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or economic status. People who struggle with the disorder need professional treatment from counselors trained to work with this addiction.

Employers can take action to protect their businesses by enacting safeguards to prevent gambling-related fraud or at least catch it before it does significant damage. Here’s how to protect your bottom line:

Never give one employee sole charge of the company finances.

It can be easier to steal when an addicted gambler knows that no one is checking the books. Always use at least two people to handle company finances. If you can only afford to hire one person, conduct regular, unannounced internal audits to make sure the books are in order.

Divide check writing and check signing powers.

Another way to reduce gambling-related fraud risk is to assign one person the task of writing the checks and another the task of signing them. This checks-and-balance system may prevent fraud or catch it early.

Learn to recognize problem gambling warning signs.

If you see an employee exhibiting these warning signs, refer him or her to human resources or an employee assistance program (EAP):

  • Asking for payday advances;
  • Asking for pay in lieu of vacation time or sick days;
  • Frequently organizing office pools;
  • Unusual insistence on taking work home;
  • Increasing absences or tardiness;
  • Sudden lifestyle changes, such as buying pricey cars or taking expensive vacations;
  • Arguing with coworkers, friends, or family about money;
  • Borrowing money from coworkers.

For prevention resources in Lancaster or Lebanon, contact Compass Mark at 717-299-2831.

 

A Nonprofit’s Guide to Problem Gambling Fraud

Say “fraud” and minds often naturally jump to the business world. However, nonprofits can be affected by fraud as well. There are many reasons a leader, employee, or volunteer might defraud an organization, and one of those is problem gambling. Learn more in this guide to problem gambling fraud in nonprofits.

Nonprofit groups, like their business counterparts, are at risk for losing money to gambling-related crime. For example, a former NFL player was charged in February 2016 with using about $500,000 in donations made to his nonprofit groups to pay off debts. Prosecutors allege the former player used some of those funds to pay gambling debts and withdraw cash from casino ATMs. Additional allegations suggest the man may have applied for “bridge funding” to meet payroll obligations and then, when he received the money, used part of the funding to pay debt at a Las Vegas casino.

Signs an Employee or Volunteer Might be at Risk for Problem Gambling
  • Declining performance;
  • False claims on expense accounts;
  • Requesting pay in lieu of vacation time;
  • Asking for pay advances;
  • Organizing workplace gambling pools frequently;
  • Borrowing money from coworkers or colleagues;
  • Increasingly absent or tardy;
  • Playing gambling apps or visiting betting websites while on the job.
How to Prevent Gambling-Related Fraud in Your Nonprofit

Develop a formal no-gambling policy.
Define what is acceptable behavior regarding on-the-job gambling, and lay out a framework for consequences when those rules are violated. As part of a no gambling at work policy, you may want to consider installing blocking software that prohibits users from accessing betting websites through nonprofit-owned computers and devices.

Train executives, managers, and team leaders to ID potential problem gambling.
Educate everyone in your nonprofit with leadership responsibilities to identify the signs of gambling-related behavior. Ensure supervisors have a framework to refer a potentially addicted employee to HR or to provide referrals to evaluation and treatment resources.

Establish internal financial controls.
Simple tactics, like regularly auditing petty cash or requiring two signatures on each check, can help prevent gambling-related fraud or catch it at an early stage.

Find more relevant information in Employer’s Guide to Workplace Gambling- Do’s and Don’ts and Is Your Business at Risk for Gambling-Related Fraud? 6 Gotta-Ask Questions.

Compass Mark guides individuals, businesses, and health care professionals in Lancaster, PA and Lebanon, PA to addiction help resources. Call 717-299-2831 or use our simple Compulsive Gambling Help Form.

 

March Madness Costs U.S. Employers Nearly $2 Billion

American businesses are expected to lose $1.9 billion in productivity during the 2015 NCAA basketball tournament, according to estimates from outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Ouch! Whether employees are filling out brackets or the boss is watching games from his or her desk, there’s no question that some businesses are less productive during March Madness.

But Workplace Gambling is Much More Than a Productivity Problem.

For many workers, betting on the annual tournament is a diversion—a form of entertainment and a way to connect socially with others. While it lowers productivity and saps resources (like bandwidth), the distraction is usually temporary.

However, for some people, wagering on March Madness and other sporting events, such as the Super Bowl, can raise the risk for gambling addiction, a brain condition in which a person can’t control the urge to gamble. To learn more, visit March Madness- Potential Gateway to Problem Gambling?

Why is Problem Gambling a Problem for Employers?

Compulsive gambling can be as destructive as other addictions—and it can have a similar impact on the workplace. A person struggling with this addiction cannot control their urge to bet, and, as a result, he or she spends time obsessing over their next wager instead of handling workplace responsibilities. Problem gamblers may also have increased rates of absenteeism or tardiness. Additionally, they’re at higher risk for other conditions that affect workplace performance, including clinical depression and substance abuse.

Some people with gambling problems may also commit workplace crimes, like theft or fraud, to fund the addiction. A study of major U.S. fraud cases in 2013 discovered that gambling was a motivating factor in 24% of the crimes.

Do You Have a Workplace Gambling Policy?

Your company likely has policies in place to protect the business and its employees from substance abuse in the workplace. A gambling policy works in the same way, defining appropriate behavior while at work and developing a framework for dealing with violations and treatment referrals. Consult a human resources professional about creating a workplace gambling policy at your business.

If you’re an employer in Lancaster, PA or Lebanon, PA and would like to learn more about protecting your business from problem gambling, contact Compass Mark at 717-299-2831. We offer gambling addiction education and treatment resources.

Find more information by checking out:

 

PA Attorney Accused of Taking $500,000+ for Gambling, Personal Use [News]

$535,000. That’s how much Carlisle attorney Karl Rominger is alleged to have taken from clients for personal use and gambling. He was recently charged with 25 counts of theft and fund misappropriation after a divorce client reported the lawyer didn’t turn over funds received from the sale of the marital home. Investigators said the attorney used the money for personal use and to gamble at casinos, according to Penn Live.

The district attorney in the case said a forensic accountant is still reviewing financial records and more charges could be filed. Rominger allegedly misappropriated money from other clients as well, including a car accident victim who’d won a settlement and the survivors of a deceased client.

Rominger apologized for his actions, according to Penn Live, and he voluntarily surrendered his law license last spring.

Is Your Lancaster or Lebanon Business Safe from Gambling-Related Fraud?  

The 2013 Marquet Report on Embezzlement found that gambling was a significant motivating factor in 24% of major business fraud cases, and, study authors note, it was a contributing factor in additional cases.

However, it’s not just gambling-related fraud that hurts businesses. Gambling-addicted employees are less productive, which affects overall productivity as well as workplace morale.

Signs of Gambling Addiction in the Workplace

Substance abuse often produces physical red flags that sometimes make it easier to spot an employee with a problem. Compulsive gambling, however, isn’t always as easy to identify. Signs include:

  • Declining performance;
  • Increasing absenteeism or tardiness;
  • Asking for pay advances or borrowing money from co-workers;
  • Taking finance-related work home or working on it after-hours;
  • Filing false claims against an expense account;
  • Playing gambling apps or visiting casino websites while on the clock;
  • Showing mood swings related to winning and losing.
Employer Resources for Gambling in the Workplace

Problem Gambling–4 Facts for Lancaster, Lebanon Businesses

Is Your Business at Risk for Gambling-Related Fraud? 6 Gotta-Ask Questions

Compulsive Gambling Treatment Providers in Lancaster and Lebanon

Compass Mark helps Lancaster- and Lebanon-area employers and health care professionals find addiction education, prevention, and treatment resources. To learn how we’ll help you, call us at 717-299-2831. Our assistance is confidential.

 

Will Super Bowl Gambling Drain Your Biz’s Productivity? Tips to Protect Your Company

Are you ready for some football? It’s likely that—even if you’re not—at least some employees at your Lancaster- or Lebanon-area business are pumped for the big night. With the Super Bowl set for February 1st, you may find workers devoting more and more on-the-clock time to players, stats, and game pools over the next weeks.

Overall, American businesses lose an estimated $850 million in productivity every year during the week preceding the Super Bowl, according to estimates.

So how much money will your workplace lose this year?

If you don’t currently have a business gambling policy, now is a good time to consider one. Even if you can’t have it in place in time for the upcoming game, you can still protect future productivity by taking away the distraction of workplace gambling. What’s more, a gambling policy may also help safeguard your company from gambling addiction-related business fraud.

Tips for Keeping Gambling Out of the Workplace—And Away From Your Bottom Line
  • Create a policy that defines expected behavior. A gambling policy functions much like an alcohol/drug policy—it provides a framework for expected behavior in the workplace and establishes disciplinary options for violations. Explicitly lay out where and when gambling is prohibited. Consult an HR specialist or attorney for details on creating an effective workplace gambling policy.
  • Remember to outline expected behavior for the use of company equipment too. Within the policy, be specific about prohibiting employees from visiting gambling websites or playing gambling apps on business-owned tech, including computers, tablets, and smartphones.
  • Train managers and supervisors how to identify workers with potential compulsive gambling.While there may not be physical signs, as there are sometimes with substance abuse, there are other red flags that indicate gambling has become a problem in an employee’s life:
    • Increasing tardiness or absenteeism;
    • Declining workplace performance;
    • Exhibiting mood swings connected to gambling outcomes (joyful when winning, depressed after losses);
    • Minimizing computer tabs when a colleague or manager enters the room;
    • Asking for payday advances, or requesting pay in lieu of vacation or sick days;
    • Borrowing money from coworkers;
    • Initiating bets or sports pools frequently at the workplace.

Learn more about protecting your company from problem gambling:

Is Your Business At Risk for Gambling-Related Fraud? 6 Gotta-Ask Questions

Problem Gambling a Factor in 33% of Business Fraud [Statistics]

Keep Problem Gambling Out of the Workplace- Tips to Share with Employees

For information about compulsive gambling education or prevention resources in Lancaster County or Lebanon County, call the Compass Mark team at (717) 299-2831.

 

PA Woman Addicted to Gambling Embezzles $250,000 from Bank Customers- Tips for Employers

A former bank manager says gambling addiction lead her to embezzle a combined $250,000 from several customers at a bank and a credit union in Central Pennsylvania. The initial allegations included taking out fraudulent loans, transferring a customer’s certificate of deposit into the manager’s own name, and defrauding customers.  The 40-year-old woman pleaded guilty to felony mail fraud related to the crimes and is scheduled to be sentenced this month.

Could gambling-motivated fraud happen at your Lancaster or Lebanon business?

How Gambling Impacts Employers

  • Problem gambling motivated 33% of major fraud cases examined in a 2012 study.
  • About 66% of those cases involved accounting or bookkeeping employees.
  • The average length of the fraud in that study was more than 4.5 years.
  • Over 6o% of problem gamblers said they’ve missed work to gamble, according to another study.
  • Over 55% of those in the same study reported less ability to focus on work tasks because of a preoccupation with gambling or gambling-related problems.

3 Ways to Protect Your Business from Problem Gambling-Related Theft

1. Implement a workplace gambling policy. A policy that defines what behavior is acceptable at your business will lay the foundation for identifying and addressing potential problems. Remember to consider whether employees can use company technology to access gambling websites and apps. Learn more in Do You Need a Workplace Gambling Policy?

2. Train supervisors and managers to identify employees who may be struggling with problem gambling. Teach those who supervise others to look for signs of gambling addiction, such as declining productivity, increasing absenteeism, or requesting payday advances. Employees with a possible gambling problem can then be referred to HR personnel or offered resources for professional evaluation and treatment. Find more information in How to Talk to an Employee with a Gambling Problem.

3. Initiate financial safeguards. Perform regular audits to help identify potential fraud or theft. When possible, divide accounting tasks among at least two employees, so no one person has complete control of company finances. For example, assign one employee to print out checks and another to sign them.

Resources for Compulsive Gambling and the Workplace

If you’re a business owner, manager, or HR professional in Lancaster County or Lebanon County, Compass Mark will direct you to the gambling addiction resources that help protect the business and the bottom line. Contact our experienced team at (717) 299-2831.

 

Problem Gambling—4 Facts for Lancaster, Lebanon Businesses

How much money can your business afford to lose to an employee’s gambling addiction?

$30 million?

That’s how much an Atlanta, GA real estate law firm lost after alleged embezzlement by one of its former managing partners. The accused man reportedly took money from several of the firm’s accounts as well as from those belonging to a related title company, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  He allegedly wired $4 million to casinos. An attorney for the accused man has called the allegations “false.”

We don’t know if the accused man struggled with compulsive gambling or what the outcome of this situation will be, but it’s a good reminder for Lancaster and Lebanon businesses that employees with gambling addiction can create significant problems for a company. Consider these problem gambling facts:

1. Gambling in the workplace is a serious productivity drain—the March Madness tournament alone is estimated to cost businesses up to $1 billion in productivity each year.

2. Gambling was a motivating factor in 33% of major U.S. embezzlement cases in 2012. Compulsive gamblers cannot control the urge to bet, much like someone addicted to drugs can’t control the urge to use. The result? A person addicted to gambling may turn to fraud or theft to find the money to gamble or cover personal bills.

3. Gambling-related fraud doesn’t need to run into six or more figures to harm a business. Ask yourself: How much can my company afford to lose? $1,000? $10,000? $50,000? The fact is that any loss is too much.

4. You can take action to prevent gambling-related fraud. Learn more by visiting these resources:

Need more information? Contact Compass Mark at (717) 299-2831. Our team provides education, prevention, and confidential treatment guidance to employers in Lancaster County and Lebanon County.

 

Must-Know Problem Gambling Info for Businesses

The annual productivity drain known as March Madness isn’t the only time you need to have problem gambling on your radar. Gambling at work can be an anytime problem, whether a worker is playing slots apps while on-the-clock or struggling with compulsive gambling. Here’s what business owners, managers, and supervisors in Lancaster and Lebanon need to know about problem gambling in the workplace:

1. Gambling addiction is a real condition.

The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) classifies it as an addictive disorder because it’s similar in many ways to substance abuse disorders. Like addiction to alcohol and other drugs, it’s a progressive condition that affects every facet of life. Problem gambling is linked to clinical depression, substance abuse, relationship conflict, and a higher risk of suicide.

2. Problem gambling costs businesses money.

In the workplace, the condition decreases productivity and increases tardiness and absenteeism. Additionally, gambling is now accessible through mobile devices, making it easy for an employee to gamble while at their desk, during meetings, or even from the restroom. Betting in the workplace affects morale, too; employees gambling amongst themselves create the potential for distraction and conflict.

In some situations, the urge to gamble is so strong the addicted person will commit crimes, like theft, fraud, or embezzlement, to cover up losses or get more gambling money. A report from Marquet found that problem gambling was a motivating factor in 33% of major employee-perpetrated fraud cases.

3. Implementing a gambling policy is a smart first step.

A written gambling policy, like those dealing with substance use, outlines acceptable behavior and expectations within the workplace. In addition, it should provide a system for employees to report prohibited gambling or suspected problem gambling in co-workers. For specific advice regarding a gambling policy, speak to an HR attorney.

Learn more about gambling addiction and your business.

Is Your Business at Risk for Gambling-Related Fraud?

How to Talk to an Employee with a Gambling Problem

Do You Need a Workplace Gambling Policy?

Is your staff trained to identify gambling addiction in employees? For more information about prevention and education in the workplace, contact Compass Mark at (717) 299-2831.

 

Is Your Business at Risk for Gambling-Related Fraud? 6 Gotta-Ask Questions

Can your company afford to lose $500 today? What about $50,000? Gambling addiction is a leading cause in major fraud and embezzlement cases. Here are 6 questions Lancaster and Lebanon business owners and managers should ask themselves:

1. Do we have policies defining which gambling activities are prohibited in the workplace?

Many companies have policies regarding substance use on the job, but gambling often doesn’t receive the same attention. A gambling policy sets the foundation for protecting the business from gambling-related theft, fraud, or embezzlement. A policy typically states which types of gambling are prohibited in the workplace. It may also outline what disciplinary actions can be taken against those who commit violations.

2. Does the policy account for newer tech gadgets, like personal tablets or smartphones?

Even if you have a gambling policy, it might not reflect relatively new technology. Make sure the guidelines address employees’ use of their own devices to gamble on company time or property.

3. Are supervisors, managers, and HR personnel trained to identify potential gambling problems in employees?

People struggling with substance addiction often (although not always) exhibit physical signs of their condition. In compulsive gambling, however, there are few physical tip-offs. Train workplace professionals to identify the signs of problem gambling, including:

  • Decreasing workplace performance
  • Asking for pay advances or requesting pay in lieu of sick days
  • Increasing tardiness or absenteeism
  • Taking the lead regularly to organize sports pools, lottery purchases, or other gambling-related activities
  • Owing money to co-workers
  • Experiencing mood swings related to winning or losing

Find out if someone you know is at risk by taking the simple quiz on the SafeStakes.org homepage.

4. Does our workplace block gambling websites from business-owned computers and devices?

You may already have software in place to block sexually-explicit sites. Consider adding blocks that prevent employees from accessing online gambling as well.

5. Do we have a corporate culture that embraces gambling?

The corporate environment can actually feed into illicit gambling-related activities: perhaps the business regularly entertains clients at a Pennsylvania casino, or the office makes a big, coordinated deal out of March Madness every year. Finding alternative ways to interact with clients socially or build employee morale will send the message that gambling isn’t welcome during working hours.

6. Do we have the financial processes in place to protect ourselves from embezzlement?

When it comes to running a small business, it’s not uncommon for people-power to be at a premium—that means one person might oversee all money-related activities, from signing checks to placing purchase orders.

Protect your company by implementing the checks and balances that make it less vulnerable to a lone employee’s illicit actions. Taking simple steps, such as requiring dual signatures on checks or regularly auditing petty cash, will reduce your exposure.

Learn More About How to Protect Your Bottom Line:

How to Talk to an Employee with a Gambling Problem

Keep Problem Gambling Out of the Workplace- Tips to Share with Employees

Gambling Addiction Treatment Providers in Lancaster, Lebanon, & Surrounding Areas

Compass Mark shares compulsive gambling education, prevention, and treatment resources with Lancaster and Lebanon businesses. Call us at (717) 299-2831 to learn more.

 

Employer’s Guide to Workplace Gambling- Do’s and Don’ts

If you’re a supervisor, manager, or business owner, productivity is always a concern—and it should be because it directly affects the bottom line. After all, a worker wrapped up in Flappy Bird or a texting drama isn’t exactly making the task at hand a priority. But there may be one productivity waster you haven’t considered yet: workplace gambling.

Gambling can be a harmless form of entertainment, but it sometimes hurts businesses. Consider the impact of office pools. The annual March Madness basketball tournament cost employers an estimated $175 million to $1 billion in productivity in 2012. How much of that money came from your business? What’s more, office pools and other types of workplace wagers can divide co-workers, generating disagreements and conflicts.

Additionally, compulsive gamblers have been known to steal from employers to fund their addiction. For example, problem gambling was linked to 33% of major fraud cases in 2012. However, you don’t need to be a big business to get dinged by a worker’s gambling problems. A New Cumberland, Pennsylvania couple admitted to stealing more than $66,000 from her employer to feed their compulsive gambling behavior.

Take action to protect productivity and the bottom line. Here are do’s and don’ts for dealing with gambling in the workplace:

Don’t neglect the value of a gambling policy. A workplace gambling policy is good business practice because it provides a framework for expected behavior and a foundation from which to deal with violations. Explain why gambling at work is prohibited, define specifically which activities are barred, and outline potential disciplinary actions.  Learn more in Do You Need a Workplace Gambling Policy?

Do train supervisors and employees to identify warning signs. Problem gamblers usually don’t show physical symptoms, but there are red flags, including:

  • Increasing preoccupation with gambling
  • Declining productivity
  • Requesting pay advances
  • Asking for pay in place of vacation time
  • Borrowing or stealing money from co-workers
  • Frequently organizing group gambling opportunities, like office pools or casino/racetrack trips

Don’t ignore an employee’s potential problem. From productivity to the bottom line, a worker’s gambling problem does affect the workplace. But how do you approach the issue with him or her? Start by talking with the employee about the specific, work-related concerns you have (“I’ve noticed you’re playing a poker app during work hours.”) Find more details in How to Talk to an Employee with a Gambling Problem.

Do provide gambling addiction treatment resources. This condition is treatable. If you’re worried about a worker’s behavior, refer him or her to addiction counseling or the workplace EAP (employee assistance program).

Do you need more information on compulsive gambling education, prevention, or treatment? Contact Compass Mark. Our staff will direct you to the Lancaster- and Lebanon-area resources you need to safeguard your business and your employees. Call us at (717) 299-2831.