27 Mar 2019

First person charged for failing to identify problem gambler

1:48 pm on 27 March 2019

A gambling venue manager has become the first person in New Zealand to be charged with failing to identify a problem gambler.

Poker Machines at the Mangere Cosmopolitan Club in South Auckland.

Pokie machines. (file photo) Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Indira Stewart

Under the Gambling Act, staff at venues are required to take all reasonable steps to identify actual or potential problem gamblers and to offer help.

The Department of Internal Affairs' gambling group director, Chris Thornborough, said there was "no excuse" for failing to identify problem gamblers.

"Venues have a legal responsibility to look after their gambling patrons, just like they do when serving alcohol," he said.

If found guilty, the manager could be fined up to $5000 and a criminal conviction would probably bar a person from being directly involved in a gambling business.

As the matter was now before the courts, Mr Thornborough said he was not able to comment on the specific details.

However, he said the prosecution showed venues would be held accountable if they ignored patrons showing signs of problem gambling.

"We will not back away from prosecuting in cases where we have evidence to suggest that staff in gambling venues have failed to take all of the reasonable steps

necessary to identify and look after problem gamblers. We will not stand by and watch as venues ignore patrons showing signs of problem gambling," he said.

"Everyone working in gambling venues across New Zealand needs to take their harm minimisation role seriously."

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