I don’t know for certain. But it would not surprise me to discover, when we finally touch bottom in the Great Bridgetown Financial Fiasco—when we get past the recent auditor’s report fingering a single trusted employee for looting $113,000 from the town’s treasury, past the ongoing police investigation and likely charges and even more likely conviction (the auditor’s report says she admitted taking the money), and on to her pre-sentence report—gambling was at the heart of the crime.
I have no proof. But I read the papers.
Consider these Nova Scotia gambling-related crime stories, all published since October 1.
A former financial secretary to the Lunenburg local of the Canadian Auto Workers’ Union is ordered to stand trial on charges he failed to pay back $29,000 he stole from the organization. His lawyer claims the man is addicted to video lottery terminal gambling.
The former president of a Royal Canadian Legion branch in Waverley is sentenced to house arrest after stealing $21,385 he gambled away over three years. “Gambling took hold of me,” he told the judge at his sentencing.
A Glace Bay man pleads guilty to robbing a local bank branch of $2,389 to “support his gambling addiction.”
And a Musquodoboit Harbour doctor is ordered to abstain from gambling, alcohol and non-prescription medications after the province’s College of Physicians and Surgeons determines she prescribed narcotics to a patient—and took them herself.
Most crimes associated with gambling addictions tend to slide under our radar.
But not all.
Last spring, Jason MacRae finally admitted he killed his wife, school teacher Paula Gallant, during an argument over a $700 online gambling debt.
And two of those charged in the MLA expenses scandal—former MLA Dave Wilson and current MLA Trevor Zinck—have been publicly identified as having “issues” with gambling.
In fact, a 2006 research report says 45 per cent of all inmates at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Institution self-reported gambling problems; 20 per cent claimed to have committed gambling-related crimes.
We have a problem we’re not admitting. Perhaps it’s because we too are hooked—on the millions of dollars in government revenues gambling provides.