Woman showed no sign of problem gambling – casino head

The former general manager of Dunedin Casino said yesterday that, with the benefit of hindsight, more could have been done to help a woman who stole from her employer to feed her gambling addiction.

But Rod Woolley told a Gambling Commission hearing in Auckland that Christine Keenan did not exhibit the characteristics of a problem gambler.

The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) has made an application to the commission for the casino’s licence to be suspended.

The Gambling Act requires casinos to have a policy for identifying problem gamblers, offering them advice and ultimately banning them for up to two years.

The commission has been told Keenan gambled away NZD 6.6 million from 2001 to 2004, when she was jailed for three years after being convicted of stealing more than NZD 500,000 from her employer.

She had also sold her house, used money from her marriage settlement, and spent her inheritance so she could continue gambling at the casino

Under cross-examination, Mr Woolley, who left the casino in March and is now based in Brisbane, said he never developed the belief that Keenan was a problem gambler.

She did not display signs common to problem gamblers, like agitation after losing, a trance-like state while playing and deterioration in appearance.

„No, I didn’t know at the time that I could have done more and I don’t think I could have done more,“ Mr Woolley said.

„With hindsight, I would be a lot wiser. I did what I thought was appropriate at the time. We were following our procedures.“

Mr Woolley said he did speak to Keenan informally about her views on gambling because of the amount of time and money she was spending at the casiNo

Keenan insisted she did not have a problem and told him she was modifying her gambling.

The casino’s security and surveillance manager, Geoff Purdon, said he knew Keenan before she began going to the casino as their children went to the same school.

He and his wife had also considered buying Keenan’s house when it came up for sale.

But he said he was not aware of any evidence to suggest that her gambling was causing harm to her or anyone else.

He thought Keenan was a wealthy woman and did not query her about her personal life.

„I never saw the kids waiting outside school,“ he said.

„They were always well dressed. There was nothing to suggest that they were not well cared for. They were no concerns whatsoever.“

The hearing is due to end today.

The commission, which can suspend a casino’s licence for up to six months, is expected to reserve its decision.