Melbourne socialite guilty of $6m theft to fuel pokies habit

by William Brown Last Updated
Melbourne socialite guilty of $6m theft to fuel pokies habit

A Melbourne businesswoman and socialite stole millions from her employer to fund her gambling habit, 9News reports.

Connie Paglianiti stole the funds while working as a bookkeeper and running her own events business, Eventcepts.

She hosted charity functions for the Alannah and Madeline Foundation and the Royal Women’s Hospital, reportedly featuring celebrities including Susan Sarandon.

“The vast majority of what you stole went into poker machines and was simply lost,” Judge Liz Gaynor said in the County Court on Thursday.

The events company owner has been jailed for four years and must serve at least two-and-a-half years before being eligible for parole.

Paglianiti’s low self-esteem developed into an “unhealthy desire to shine in some way” and the event business was meant to afford her that chance the Judge said.

She began the business with a chef who fled the country and left her saddled with more than $440,000 in debt.

She started to play the pokies as a pleasurable activity, but it soon escalated, and she tried to win back money she had lost.

“The hole you dug yourself into became deeper and wider,” Judge Gaynor said.

The businesswoman lost at least $1.5 million playing the pokie machines at Crown Casino, spending between five to six nights a month there.

Her thefts were “widespread and longstanding” and breached a personal and professional relationship that had existed for 20 years, the Judge said.

Guitar-shaped casino resort for Mexico

Hard Rock International and Spanish gambling group Codere have reportedly been in talks to form a joint venture and build a guitar-shaped casino resort in Mexico.

Casino News Daily reported in May that Hard Rock and Codere agreed to a 60-40 partnership that will see the joint development and operation of a casino resort in Mexico City.

Mexico is a major market for Codere as the company has been extending aggressively its Latin American footprint in the past several years.

While El Confidencial reported that Hard Rock and Codere have already entered into a partnership, Spanish-language gaming news outlet AZARplus reported, citing information provided by Codere, that it was a bit too early to unveil more details about a potential “strategic alliance” with Hard Rock in Mexico.

It emerged last week that the two gambling companies have secured a site in Mexico City for the development of a guitar-shaped hotel and casino resort.

The property would cost $1 billion to be built and according to sources familiar with the ongoing talks between Hard Rock and Codere, the latter operator would invest about $360 million in the scheme.

Reports suggested that the Mexico City resort would feature 48 stories, a casino and betting area, dining outlets, and entertainment facilities, among other amenities.

The two gambling operators are believed to have tapped Credit Suisse to secure the bank loan they would need to raise the complex up from the ground.

If Hard Rock and Codere form a joint venture in Mexico and clear all the hurdles that accompany a project of this scale, they would develop the second guitar-shaped resort in the portfolio of the Florida-based gaming and hospitality giant.

The company is gearing up preparations for the upcoming opening of the renovated and expanded Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood resort in South Florida.

Hard Rock spent $1.5 billion on updating the property and adding the world’s first guitar-shaped hotel, among other facilities.

The refurbished complex is slated to open doors on October 24.

The hotel tower and the other upgraded amenities at the resort would look to attract visitors throughout the country and around the world and “put South Florida on the map as a world-class gaming destination.”

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