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Gambler loses GBP158,000 online
[June 16, 2006]

Gambler loses GBP158,000 online

(Daily Mail Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) AN Internet gambling addict used his parents' credit cards to lose GBP158,000 in just 50 minutes, a court heard yesterday.

Richard Mahan, 25, took 13 cards to their limits as he ran up the debt.

He managed to win GBP90,000 quickly after logging on to the Internet. But his luck soon changed and he continued to bet, trying to stem his losses.

Yesterday, as Mahan admitted 13 charges of fraudulently running up debts of more than GBP68,000 in online betting rooms, a sheriff at the Scottish court said the problem of Internet gambling addiction had to be tackled.

Sheriff Kevin Veal said: 'If GBP150,000 can be lost in 50 minutes under clandestine conditions in the early hours of the morning, it is an issue so great that it needs to be addressed by the wider community. It is a social issue.' Forfar Sheriff Court was told Mahan lost the money during the early hours of April 3 last year, on a computer at his parents' home in Trinity, near Brechin, Angus.

Procurator fiscal Brian Bell said he spent less than two hours gambling.

'Initially, he'd made over GBP90,000 in profit, but within an hour he continued gambling and started to lose money heavily until the credit cards ran dry and he ran up the debt. He then tried to commit suicide.

'The credit card companies contacted the father of the accused and they indicated that unless the matter was reported to the police, the parents' insurance cover would not come into place and they would have to pay back the money themselves. The father then reported the matter to the police.' Mahan's father James, 51, is a director of Tryst Consultants, whose principle interest is trading in oil. His wife, Linda, 52, is also a director. Mahan is thought to live in Aberdeen with girlfriend Danni Swannick.

Yesterday, his solicitor John Clancy said: 'The court should be aware that Internet gambling, along with alcohol and heroin, is the scourge of the 21st century because it is unregulated. It also raises questions about the wisdom of credit card companies allowing borrowing levels to be raised without any real checks.' The sheriff deferred sentencing until next month, but warned Mahan he faces jail.

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