The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


DIA appeals High Court gambling judgment

10 February 2013

The Department of Internal Affairs is appealing a High Court judgment to clarify how it can effectively police the return of pokie money to the community.

The case concerns the gaming machine society Pub Charity which in 2009 breached the regulated limit on reimbursing venue operating costs by $286,275. This funding should have been returned to the community in the form of grants.

The Department suspended Pub Charity’s licence for one day, a decision upheld by the Gambling Commission, but appealed by Pub Charity.

December’s High Court judgment (CIV-2012-485-808 [2012] NZHC 3530) found that the power to suspend operators cannot be used for imposing a penalty for past, non-continuing, breaches, in contrast to a previous High Court judgment in 2011.

Internal Affairs Gambling Compliance Director Debbie Despard said the limits on gaming machine operating costs are there to ensure that community groups get the maximum funding they’re entitled to from pokies.

“Being able to suspend an operator for breaches of the Gambling Act has been one of the Department’s most successful tools in encouraging societies to improve compliance, and maximise community funding” Ms Despard said.

“Pub Charity was found to be in breach of regulations and yet we can’t impose the sanction we believed could be applied under the Gambling Act. We now have differing views from the High Court, so it’s important we get clarification.”

Ms Despard says if the ability to suspend an operator is removed as a sanction then it places the Department in a position where cancellation, a punitive response, maybe more frequently used.

New Zealanders should be able to have confidence in the gambling system, and know that if an operator breaks the law that they will be held accountable by the Department.

At a time of financial hardship for many community groups it is one of our primary aims that they receive the maximum possible benefit from the money gambled on pokies,“ she said.

Pending the appeal the Department will pursue other options to ensure that those who breach regulations are held accountable.

Media Contact
Sue Ingram
Communications, Account Manager (Policy, Regulatory & Ethnic Affairs)
The Department of Internal Affairs, Te Tari Taiwhenua
Direct Dial: 04 494 0584 / Mobile: 027 541 4696