The Department of Internal Affairs

The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation

 

Christchurch bar loses licence to operate pokies


25 August 2014

The Gambling Commission has upheld the cancellation of a Christchurch pub’s licence to operate pokies and confirmed that local woman Sonya McIntyre cannot supervise their pokie machine gambling.

The decision means that no pokies will be running at the Sideline Bar in Richmond for the foreseeable future.

Sideline’s pokie machines are owned by the gaming machine society, Bluegrass Trust – itself at the centre of a recent Gambling Commission decision.

“We are determined to ensure that those operating in the gambling sector are honest and have integrity and this decision is part of that effort”, says Raj Krishnan, Acting Director Gambling Compliance, Department of Internal Affairs.

“Earlier this year the Gambling Commission confirmed that Mrs McIntyre’s brother-in-law, Ray McIntyre was not a suitable person to be involved in the pokie sector in its decision regarding the Phoenix Charitable Trust. [decision GC 04/14]

“This decision makes it clear that expectations of people with key roles in the gambling sector are high, and that dishonest behaviour will not be tolerated.”

The Gambling Commission made its decision on 21 August 2014 and released it publicly on Monday 25 August.

Internal Affairs told the Commission that Mrs McIntyre, the owner of Sideline and the business operating the venue, Stanmore Star Investments, supplied false and misleading information to gambling inspectors about the source of funding for the purchase of the venue. It said she was instructed to provide false information by a third party, who also knew the information to be false.

An Internal Affairs investigation began in early 2012, prompted by concerns about where Mrs McIntyre sourced funding to buy the Sideline bar. An email exchange between Mrs McIntyre and her brother-in-law, Ray, was an important part of the Commission’s assessment.

Bluegrass and Stanmore Star Investments told the Commission they rejected the allegations made about Mrs McIntyre and argued that cancellation of the licence was a disproportionate response.

The Gambling Commission however concludes that Mrs McIntyre did provide false information and only corrected that “when it became clear to her that she had been caught out by the Department’s request for supporting documentation. And that her subsequent statements were “unconvincing and implausible.” (Paragraph 31 (d) & (e))

It says “the appearance of even a single example of dishonesty in the course of dealings with the Department is a matter of serious concern to the Commission in assessing the suitability of those involved in the conduct of Class 4 gambling.”

The Commission did not accept an argument that Mrs McIntyre could withdraw from managing gambling at the venue and be replaced by her husband Terry, in order for the pokie operation to continue. (Paragraph 46)

The Commission accepted that cancellation of the licence was appropriate. “There is a need for deterrent consequences for the dishonest provision of information to protect the integrity of the licensing process, especially in cases where detecting dishonesty is difficult.” (Paragraph 48)

Internal Affairs’ Raj Krishnan says: “Public expectations of the Class 4 gambling sector are high. Cancellation of this licence was necessary to maintain the effectiveness and integrity of the Class 4 licensing system.”

The cancellation of Sideline’s venue licence will take effect on 11 September 2014.

Ends:

Q1: How much money will the community lose because pokies aren’t operating at Sideline?

Gamblers can go elsewhere to gamble. The money that goes back to the community, as well as the community cost to gambling, will likely remain at the same or similar levels.

Q2: If a new person takes over running of Sideline will they be allowed to operate pokies at the Bar?

If someone else wants to run gambling at Sideline a fresh licence will need to be applied for. That will be considered on its merits.

Q3: Bluegrass was trying to transfer Sideline’s licence to Phoenix , is that a dead duck and could a transfer happen to another society?

A transfer of a licence is not possible. A fresh application would have to be made, to be considered on its merits.

Media contact:

Sue Ingram, Communications, Department of Internal Affairs Te Tari Taiwhenua
Mobile: +64 27 541 4696 | www.dia.govt.nz