The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) in New Zealand has made its first prosecution under the country’s native Gambling Act of 2003. According to recent media reports, a manager of a local gambling establishment has become the first Kiwi to be charged for failing to identify problem gambling in a customer.
Thus far, the DIA has not revealed the name or location of the gambling location at which the manager in question worked. However, it has confirmed that the manager has been charged for ‘failing to take reasonable measures’ in order to identify and confront a problem gambler. The charge was revealed by the DIA’s gambling group director Chris Thornborough, who noted that the manager will face a criminal conviction along with a cash fine of NZ$5,000.
Manager Failed to Protect Player
As confirmed by a local spokesman for the government organization, the defendant in the case was working at a pokie machine venue (such as a pub or a bar) rather than a formal casino. According to the 2003 Gambling Act, all employees of local gambling venues are required by law to take the steps necessary to identify problem gambling that is being – or could be – experienced by Kiwi players. These staff members are also obligated to offer such punters help in these cases.
As mentioned above, this is the first time in New Zealand’s history in which a resident has faced charges for failing to identify a gambling addict at their respective establishment. If the venue’s manager is found guilty by local courts, they could be facing criminal conviction, which would suspend them from being involved on any level of the gambling industry in the foreseeable future.
Regulator Plans Future Crackdown
As was explained by Thornborough, there is no excuse for failing to identify the signs of problem gambling in punters. He reminded the public that such venues are legally obligated to care for their customers, but further shared that he could not make any comments on specific details of the case at the time.
The DIA’s gambling group director also added in his statement that the prosecution is proof that local gambling establishments will be held to task should they ever ignore customers who seem to be suffering from problem gambling. All operators and employees must comply with national policies and procedures relating to gamblers’ identification and habit management, said Thornborough, who revealed that local regulators are now focused on cracking down on any venues who fail to meet these obligations.