INDEPENDENT NEWS

Slaps casino over face with wet bus ticket

Published: Wed 18 Oct 2006 02:39 PM
Slaps casino over face with wet bus ticket
New Zealand’s gambling watchdog, the Gambling Commission, as been sharply criticised for only handing out a two-day license suspension to the Dunedin Casino, after the gambling company was found to have allowed a problem gambler to have gambled $6.6 million over three years.
Dunedin woman Christine Keenan lost a net $400,000 during that period, having gambled away her inheritance, her divorce settlement and the proceeds of a house sale, before stealing from her employers.
Dunedin Casino management had been aware of the extent of her gambling and had treated Mrs Keenan as a valued customer. The amount of money the casino earned from her gambling represented about 10% of the casino’s entire earnings during the period concerned.
GamblingWatch co-ordinator Dave Macpherson accused the Gambling Commission of “copping out” by only delivering the two-day penalty.
“The maximum penalty for breaching the regulations was six months.”
“Here we have a person jailed after losing her major assets, a family victimised and an employer robbed, and the Commission thinks the gambling company that failed to act to prevent this should only receive 1% of the maximum penalty available.”
“The penalty is a joke; no more than a slap in the face with a wet bus ticket,”said Mr Macpherson.
“What makes things worse is that the casino benefited from the problem gamblers questionable and illegal activity, but faces a penalty that is bound to cost it less than its already gained.”
“What sort of incentive is that to casinos to act responsibly?”
“It is ironic that the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA), in taking the prosecution against the Dunedin Casino and calling for a more realistic penalty, was doing its best to implement Parliament’s wishes, in line with the new Gambling Act.”
“What the Gambling Commission has done is to send a message to the DIA not to bother with such cases, and another message to casinos not to worry overly much if they do happen to be caught being irresponsible.
ENDS

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