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Milwaukee woman embezzled over a million dollars to feed gambling addiction

Gambling addictions are back in the news, as a Milwaukee-area woman has been charged with embezzling over a million dollars from her employer and spending it at a Potawatomi casino.

Wheaton Franciscan fired Janice Nieman in July after the health care firm accused its payroll specialist of using a scheme to pocket more than a million dollars in company funds. Nieman says she spent much of her illegal gains on slot machines at the Forest County Potawatomi casino in Milwaukee.

Local prosecutors say Nieman has just been charged with four felonies in connection with the alleged embezzlement.

Rose Gruber of the Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling says national figures show 65 percent of problem gamblers commit an illegal act to finance their gambling.

"When they can't get legal means of money anymore, and nobody's [lending] them money anymore and they've sold everything they can to get cash, very often they do turn to illegal things," says Gruber. "A lot of times it's embezzling."

Gruber says if law-abiding gamblers start to feel tempted to break the law, they can call the problem gambling hotline 24 hours a day - the sooner the better to deal with their addiction.

"So often with gambling we think it's about money, so we don't see it like we do other addictions," she says. "But it's about the high; it's about the risk-taking."

Gruber says if callers to the hotline say they've already started breaking the law, counselors advise them to contact a lawyer. The number for the problem gambling hotline is 1-800- GAMBLE 5.

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