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Strong message to gambling operators

Media Release 18 October 2006


Strong message to gambling operators

The Gambling Commission’s decision to suspend Dunedin Casino’s licence for failing to take adequate action over a problem gambler sends a strong message to gambling operators, the Department of Internal Affairs’ Director of Gambling Compliance, Mike Hill said today.

The Commission said its decision would make plain to casino operators the importance of complying with their host responsibility obligations.

The Commission has imposed a two-day suspension of Dunedin Casino’s licence after finding that the casino breached Section 309 (1) of the Gambling Act by failing to offer prescribed information or advice about problem gambling to Dunedin woman, Christine Keenan. The Commission heard that Keenan had turned over $6.6 million in gambling between 2001 and 2004. She was jailed for stealing almost $500,000 from her employer. The Department sought a seven-day suspension of the casino’s licence.

The Commission said the country’s six casinos were in a favoured position as the Gambling Act 2003 prohibited any new casino licences.

“These casinos must now operate in the context of a new Act which places much sharper emphasis on host responsibility and harm minimisation,” the Commission said.

Mike Hill said the Department had a duty to take action when it considered the Dunedin Casino had failed to deal adequately with a problem gambler.

“The Act brought the biggest changes to the gambling sector in 30 years, with harm prevention as a driving principle,” Mike Hill said. “Operators of casinos and gaming machine venues must provide information and assistance to people whom they believe may be problem or potential problem gamblers.

“Gambling (Harm Prevention and Minimisation) Regulations 2004 require casino operator staff who are in direct contact with players, to be trained in how to recognise and deal with problem gamblers. This would include providing the player with information about the potential risks and consequences of problem gambling and how to get help.

“Ways of recognising problem gamblers include:
• Repeated visits to money machines
• Attempts to borrow money or cash cheques on site
• Disorderly or agitated behaviour
• Increased gambling sessions
• Notification from family and friends

“Gambling operators are obliged to monitor patrons for potential gambling problems.

“When a patron is identified as an actual or potential problem gambler, the gambling operator must describe to them the self-exclusion order procedure and may then issue an exclusion order prohibiting the patron from entering the gambling area for up to 2 years.

“The Department checks casinos and other gambling venues to ensure they are complying with their harm minimisation policies.”

The Commission’s decision is available on: www.gamblingcom.govt.nz/GCwebsite.nsf

Ends

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