On 9 November 2005 New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs applied to the Gambling Commission for an order to suspend the Dunedin Casino Operator’s licence. The application followed an investigation into the casino’s actions in respect of a local woman who was sentenced to three years imprisonment in December 2004 after admitting fraudulently obtaining funds to finance a gambling problem.
Under Section 144 of the Gambling Act 2003, the Secretary for Internal Affairs can apply for the suspension or cancellation of a casino licence when the licence holder is in breach of minimum operating standards. Harm minimisation responsibilities under casino licence conditions include the requirement for the casino to have a policy about identifying problem gamblers and to invoke exclusion orders as a practical means for managing problem gambling behaviour.
Dunedin Casino is described as New Zealand’s leading boutique casino. It is housed in the former Grand Hotel built in 1883 and is operated by Dunedin Casinos Management Ltd. The company is now facing a six months suspension of its licence. The Problem Gambling Association in New Zealand has said that a full hearing to suspend Dunedin Casino’s licence is a strong lesson to the gambling industry. Its CEO, John Stansfield added,
“When someone steals from an employer and gambles that money at the casino that person is punished, the employer is punished, that person’s family and friends are punished, and every working person in New Zealand is punished when they pay for the cost of the trial and incarceration. There is only one person laughing, and that is the casino that gets to keep the money.” (E-04.28.06)
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