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Licence suspension hearing closely followed

Licence suspension hearing closely followed

Media Release: Tuesday 1st August 2006

“The actions of Dunedin Casino that allowed a problem gambler to continue gambling should be punished with the maximum suspension of licence and a lesson to all gambling operators about the stance against problem gambling in this country,” says John Stansfield, CEO for the Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand (PGF).

“Playing the ostrich with its head in piles of money is not a reason for Dunedin Casino to ignore the obvious signs of problem gambling,” says Mr Stansfield.

The Dunedin Casino came under investigation by the Department of Internal Affairs in December 2004 about the casino’s host responsibility policies. The Department applied to the Gambling Commission for the casino’s licence to be suspended.

“This hearing is the first of its kind in this country, and we are keenly watching these proceedings. It is a strong lesson to all gambling operators to identify and intervene with problem gamblers,” says Mr Stansfield.

“There is a victim suffering in prison, there is a family suffering in the community, the victim’s employer has paid a huge financial penalty and her workmates’ are traumatised and the taxpayers are paying for a huge investigation to be carried out.

“There is only one person laughing, and that is the casino who gets to keep the money.

Where else in New Zealand do you get to keep stolen goods?” he says.

“This is proof enough of the devastation problem gambling inflicts on individuals and communities,” he says.

“We know that 5000 New Zealanders who commit gambling-related crime result in conviction, and there are many more that are detected and not prosecuted, and an even larger amount who are not detected at all,” he says.

A 2004 KPMG study found that gambling was the second highest motivator for serious property crime, and the highest motivator for fraud.

“Gambling problems can turn the most law-abiding, trustworthy person into a criminal, as the desire to gamble overrides their usual ethics,” says Stansfield “The economic, social and cultural costs are huge,” he says.

“The Gambling Commission needs to inflict a very strong penalty to dissuade other gambling operators from facilitating crime. Host responsibility is an important aspect of any potentially harmful activity, and should be adhered to."

ENDS

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