TWO IT analysts who stole more than £33,000 from casinos across London have been given suspended prison sentences.

Andrew Owen Ashley, aged 30, of Laleham Road, Catford, and 31-year-old Nimesh Bhagat, from Balham, each received a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, at Croydon Crown Court today (March 12).

They were both ordered to do 200 hours' community service and will have to pay back more than £16,000 each.

Both men pleaded guilty to one count of theft committed between July and September 2007.

Ashley and Bhagat were problem-solving analysts for a company providing IT solutions to a UK casino group.

They admitted using their knowledge of the casino IT system, illegally and against their own company policy, to make fraudulent claims for bets totalling more than £33,000.

The fraud involved bets placed via the casinos' remote betting terminals.

This is a system which enables customers to use any touch screen terminal within the casino to place bets on a roulette game.

Computers were seized from the homes of both men, and these proved they made the terminals produce tickets for large sums of credit for wins which would not have been possible with the odds on the bets placed.

Video and audio footage placed at least one of the men at the exact casino terminals involved when the offences took place.

Detective Inspector Ann-Marie Waller, from the Met's clubs and vice unit, said: “This was a long and complex investigation into what I believe may be the first case of its kind using IT systems to commit fraud within the gaming industry in the UK."

She added: “These men not only used their intimate knowledge of two complex systems to break the law and make these fraudulent claims, they also breached the trust of their employers and any semblance of professional integrity.”