Two reports on investigations undertaken by the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) into allegations around the Christchurch Casino were released by Internal Affairs Minister Rick Barker today.
“The first of these looks into allegations made that DIA Casino Inspectors eat for free at the Christchurch Casino. This report advises this is not the case,” said Rick Barker.
“However, I have directed officials to provide me with an assurance that all steps necessary to maintain an appropriate separation between Inspectors and the Casinos are being taken.
“The second report addresses the allegations levelled against the Christchurch Casino by two former senior Managers, Mr Peter Arbuckle and Mr Stephen Lyttelton. The report advises that whilst investigations are not yet fully complete, these allegations are unlikely to be substantiated.
“However this report does raise a number of questions about the broader casino industry and how government engages with, and monitors what happens inside, casinos.
“Prior to the Gambling Act 2003, the introduction of Casinos to New Zealand was primarily focussed on supporting an immature but rapidly growing tourism industry. The Act, when it came in to force, moved the regulatory focus from just nuts and bolts to a more mature focus that takes into consideration the need to reduce opportunities for social harm and criminal activity in the sector.
“The rules and regulations under which the Casinos operate are substantial and comprehensive. In fact, the Casino industry is one of the most heavily regulated commercial activities in New Zealand, and rightly so.
“Voluntary compliance by participants in the sector is one of the objectives of our work and I was pleased to see in the report that when casinos become aware of unlawful or socially harmful behaviour, they take action.
“Looking forward, the report raises a number of questions, in the broader context, about how government agencies could operate more effectively with the sector.
“What I have directed my officials to do is go away and develop a more comprehensive understanding on issues such as loan-sharking and money laundering. What is a loan shark? How do government agencies and the sector work better together to identify loan sharks and money laundering?
“It is worth noting that a significant amount of work has been, and will continue to be undertaken around the issue of Money Laundering through New Zealand’s participation in the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). This work, led by the Ministry of Justice and supported by other government agencies including DIA, looks to establish a tougher regime to deal with money laundering.
“Once we have developed a more comprehensive understanding of the issues, I will invite officials from across government to come together and map out solutions.
“The aim of this work will be to more effectively wrap government agencies around the sector so they can engage and work proactively with the sector to help resolve the issues we may identify going forward.
“Far from being a talk-fest, this is about matching the responsibility incumbent on the sector with a cohesive, collaborative and effective government sector. Better understanding our role in the new environment is the first step to achieving that.
‘This process will allow both government and the sector to build a solid platform that will help reduce any opportunities for problem gambling and criminality in the sector.
“I recognise there is public interest in these matters and I invite those who wish to help inform this process to write to me directly with any information they may have,” said Rick Barker.
Copies of the reports can be found at http://www.dia.govt.nz/diawebsite.nsf/wpg_URL/Services-Casino-and-Non-Casino-Gaming-Christchurch-Casino-Reports?OpenDocument