The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


Christchurch publican pleads guilty after misappropriation of over $180,000 in grant funding

9 April 2024

Christchurch man, Mark Cini, (59), has pled guilty to 39 charges related to the theft of over $180,000 in class 4 gambling grant funds derived from ‘pokie’ machines, following an investigation by Te Tari Taiwhenua, Department of Internal Affairs (DIA).

Mr Cini, who was the venue manager of class 4 gambling venue Robbies Riccarton (Robbies) at the time of the offending, appeared in the Christchurch District Court today and was convicted of 39 dishonesty offences under the Crimes Act 1961. These include charges of forgery, theft by person in a special relationship and dishonestly using a document. Mr Cini will be sentenced on 12 June.

Cini, who was involved both in the class 4 gambling sector and cricket related sports organisations, obtained $182,761.64 worth of class 4 grants. The grants were applied for on behalf of sporting organisations he controlled. The grants were obtained from the same society who also hold the class 4 venue licence for Robbies.

DIA Investigators identified that between 2018 to 2020, Cini submitted false quotes and instructed his employees to sign grant applications on behalf of various grant recipients to obtain grant funding.

“Within the gambling system, this offending is of the worst kind. It is deliberate, motivated by greed, and deprives legitimate community organisations of grant funding.” Said Vicki Scott, Director Gambling, DIA.

“This behaviour is clearly prohibited and is an attack on the integrity of the gambling system.”

“Where appropriate, we will continue to use the full extent of the law to hold those who engage in this kind of dishonest conduct within the gambling system accountable.”

For more information on New Zealand gambling regulation visit