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February 24, 2010

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He gambles on jail in bid to quit gaming

A migrant worker has turned himself into a hero of an O. Henry short story by getting himself sent to prison in a bid to quit gambling.

The man, surnamed Li, has been jailed three months and fined 1,000 yuan (US$146) for larceny by a local district Court, judges said yesterday.

Li, 37, from Zhejiang Province, had been working in the city for nearly 20 years. He told the court that he used to be addicted to slot machines and lost a great deal of money. Under his wife's close supervision, he gave up gambling.

But his wife went back home to Jiaxing City to take care of her sick mother, and Li started playing the slots again. Though he had wanted to stop gambling many times, he couldn't resist, the court heard.

"I always decided to stop after I played the last time and won some money," Li said. "But I kept losing and lost more than 20,000 yuan within two weeks."

On November 27 last year, Li lost 1,000 yuan he had just borrowed from a friend. He wandered on the road, wondering how to go back home for the coming Spring Festival.

He passed a bike-repair booth and saw a moped with the key.

He thought to steal the moped and sell it for money to gamble.

"Even if I was caught, I could let the prison force me to stop gambling," Li told the court.

He was caught by the moped owner on the scene and was jailed, as he had hoped.

In the American writer O. Henry's 1904 story, "The Cop and the Anthem," a homeless man tries to get arrested so he can spend a cold city night in a warm jail cell.


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