The Department of Internal Affairs

The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation

 

Gambling Inspectors, Christmas at casinos


21/12/2004

The Department of Internal Affairs has Gambling Inspectors working in all six of the country’s casinos. For them, Christmas is the busiest time of the year. There are far more gamblers in casinos at this time of year and much more money is gambled.

With many more people in casinos, and many of them having indulged in the Christmas spirit, Inspectors are often called on to handle gamblers’ complaints. The Inspectors work shifts, being on site most of the hours casinos are open. They are independent of the casino operator and the gambler and have access to all the casinos’ surveillance video footage of events so that they can review and, if necessary, investigate incidents.

A common problem at this time of year is confusion over the age limit for entry to casino gambling areas. It is the casino operators’ responsibility to ensure that people under 20 do not enter casino gambling areas. However, the age limit for drinking in pubs, for gambling on gaming machines in pubs and clubs, and for gambling in Australia is 18.

Gambling Inspectors become involved if minors do get past casino security. The Inspectors can investigate both how the minor got in, particularly if they have false ID, and how the casino let them in.

Gambling is heavily regulated throughout the world because it produces a huge turnover in cash. Banknotes and coins are difficult to track and offer opportunities for money laundering and other crime. Inspectors’ surveillance is maintained over the holiday period because there are more gamblers and more money in casinos.

It is important to stress that the Department is not alleging that New Zealand casino operators are involved in crimes. The Department’s and other agencies’ concerns are that, particularly at busy times, criminals mingle with other gamblers and attempt to disguise crime money as casino winnings.

Internationally, continuous gambling and high cash turnover have been linked to gambling problems, and regulations also aim to minimise or prevent the harm caused by problem gambling.
In New Zealand, for the first time, the law now makes it mandatory for casinos to have policies to identify and exclude problem gamblers. In the four months from July 1 to October 31, casinos imposed 97 exclusion orders on problem gamblers and another 277 exclusion orders were self-imposed by gamblers. Casino operators are responsible for ensuring that their staff enforce the exclusion orders.

Trading hours restriction

Casinos may not conduct gambling on Christmas Day, Good Friday, or on Anzac Day between 3am and 1pm.

23 Inspectors

The Department has 23 Gambling Inspectors who work on site in casinos. Ten Inspectors work at Skycity Auckland, three at Skycity Hamilton, five at Christchurch Casino, two at the Queenstown casinos and three at Dunedin.

They report to the Northern Regional Manager, Maria Bradshaw, based in Auckland, and the Southern Regional Manager, Dennis Petersen, based in Christchurch. The National Casino Compliance Manager, Debbie Ferris, is based in Wellington.

Inspectors’ work

Gambling Inspectors’ brief is to ensure that casino gambling is conducted fairly, that casinos are operated properly and to limit opportunities for crime or dishonesty associated with gambling. This includes:
· receiving complaints from gamblers and the public about the casino
· monitoring casino operations to ensure that they comply with the law
· regular audits of gambling equipment and games, cashiering, surveillance etc
· working with other agencies in New Zealand and internationally in relation to crime linked to gambling
· carrying out investigations arising from the work above.

Total casino gross profits in $ million for year ended June 30

1995
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
40
117
241
245
294
343
369
410
457
484
·
Casino operators’ gross profits are the amount gambled minus what is paid out in prizes. It is the same as gamblers’ losses.
· 1995 includes a part year trading by Christchurch Casino, 1996 by Skycity Auckland, 2000 by Queenstown Wharf and Dunedin, 2001 by Skycity Queenstown, and 2003 Skycity Hamilton.

Casino gambling, maximum numbers allowed under the Gambling Act

Casino
Gaming machines
Tables
Skycity Auckland
1,647
110
Skycity Hamilton
339
23
Christchurch
506
35
Dunedin
180
12
Queenstown Wharf
74
6
Skycity Queenstown
86
12
Totals
2,832
198

Gambling Act

Casinos were originally licensed under the Casino Control Act 1990 by the Casino Control Authority (CCA). The Gambling Act 2003 repealed the previous legislation. The new Act came fully into force on 1 July 2004 and prohibits any new casino venue licences being issued and existing casinos expanding their gambling operations. The Act has disestablished the CCA, with most of its functions now being carried out by the Department of Internal Affairs. It has also established the Gambling Commission, which has taken on some of the CCA’s functions and can hear appeals against Department decisions.

Further information

The December issue of the Department’s newsletter, Gambits, includes several articles about casinos pages 6-7 and 11-12).

National Manager Casino Compliance
Debbie Ferris
Telephone: 04 494 0617
Cellphone: 027 246 3928
Northern Regional Manager
Maria Bradshaw
Telephone: 09 362 7982
Cellphone: 027 290 5711
Southern Regional Manager
Dennis Petersen
Telephone: 03 353 8296
Cellphone: 027 450 0634
Gambling Inspectors, Auckland and HamiltonPlease contact Ms Bradshaw and she will know who is on duty at that time.
Dermott Harris
Gambling Inspector, Dunedin
Telephone 03 470 1509
Graham Stopforth
Gambling Inspector, Queenstown
Telephone 03 441 0406
Mike Sheppard
Gambling Inspector, Christchurch
Telephone 03 372 8884
Vince Cholewa
Communications Advisor
Telephone: 04 495 9350
Cellphone: 027 272 4270