Oklahoma posted one of the highest numbers of gambling-related embezzlement cases last year and remains at “high risk” of embezzlement because of gambling, according to a recent study.

The Marquet Report on Embezzlement, released in December, listed gambling as the second most likely motivating factor in embezzlement in 2013. The No. 1 factor, the desire for a “lavish lifestyle,” often has a gambling element, adds the report. The study was done by Marquet International, a Boston investigative and consulting firm specializing in corporate fraud.

The study found that Oklahoma was third in the number of embezzlement cases tied to gambling in 2013, with four cases. California was first with seven cases, and New York was second with five cases.

The study tallied 554 embezzlement cases nationwide in 2013  and examined 210 in which a likely motivating factor could be identified. Among those, 50 involved gambling.

Oklahoma for the first time made the top 10 in the study’s “Embezzlement Propensity Factor,” which measures a state’s risk for major embezzlement. Vermont had the highest embezzlement propensity in the U.S., followed by the District of Columbia, West Virginia, Montana, South Dakota, Virginia, Idaho, Oklahoma, Texas and Missouri. In last year’s study, Oklahoma ranked 11th.

“We believe that the above findings are significant and that gambling is a prime motivating factor in many embezzlement cases,” the study states. “One prosecutor went so far as to say that virtually every major embezzlement case he prosecuted had a gambling element to it. This prosecutor automatically subpoenas the local tribal gaming establishment’s records any time he has an embezzlement case.”

The previous year’s study  was also highlighted by Oklahoma Watch’s recent look at problem gambling in the state.

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