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Casino in strife after barred gambler coaxed back

Published: 5:28AM Monday July 09, 2012 Source: ONE News

The Department of Internal Affairs says SkyCity could be in breach of its host responsibility after it tried to coax a woman who is legally barred from the casino back into gambling.

Selina Watson and her husband gambled close to $50 million over 10 years as VIP customers at the casino.

Richard Watson, who worked as an accountant for over 30 years, is serving a six-year jail sentence after stealing nearly $5.5 million from his employers.

SkyCity subsequently trespassed the couple from the casino's premises for two years. They were also barred from Hamilton and Christchurch casinos.

Selina said she was shocked when she received text messages from SkyCity coaxing her to gamble there, which could see her face prosecution in breach of the trespass orders.

"I was really, really angry when I received it," she told ONE News.

"I didn't know what on earth was going on and wondered why on earth are they sending me text messages."

The first message read: "Don't forget $50K sweepstakes draws in 27 July."

A second message said, as a VIP customer, she could collect $60 bonus gambling dollars by visiting the casino.

Internal Affairs told ONE News the text messages could be in breach of SkyCity's host responsibility. They encouraged other barred people who have received similar text messages to complain to them directly.

Trevor Henry, Communications Account Manager for the Department of Internal Affairs, said: "We will investigate potential breaches of the Host Responsibility Programme once we've gathered and assessed information from all parties concerned."

Selina said she only once received a responsible gambling pamphlet during that time.

Since Selina's story ran on ONE News at 6, SkyCity said in a statement that it will investigate any breaches of its responsibility programme, which is a condition of its licence.

SkyCity has apologised for its actions, blaming the text messages on a computer glitch.
It said it welcomed contact from anyone who has been banned and may have concerns about being approached.