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Greens seek clampdown on illicit casino proceeds

Published: 7:26PM Sunday July 15, 2012 Source: ONE News

The Green Party has drafted a Bill which would require casinos to pay back the sum of the proceeds of crime they receive through gambling.

The Bill would impose an obligation on casinos to return profits derived from criminal activity and which should have probably been detected.

Green Party gambling spokesperson Denise Roche told ONE News that the money should go back to the people it was stolen from.

"When problem gamblers are convicted of stealing from their employers, or laundering drug money through the casino, everyone suffers except the casino, who pockets the profits," she said.

"The addict is jailed, and loses their job, their family and friends. Their employer can be ruined. But the casino is better off as a result of the crime. That's not fair," Roche said.

Roche says it is not so much about singling out the casino, but telling them to be a good corporate citizen.

"Casinos have access to advanced technologies for detecting criminal activity and fraud. They have host responsibility programmes that should ensure alarm bells go off when risky gambling occurs."

Roche said while the thief is responsible, in some cases the casino should have been suspicious about where gamblers were sourcing huge amounts of money from.

She pointed to the case of Richard Watson as an example of where the casino could potentially carried out further investigation into where the former accountant was sourcing his money from.

Watson stole $5.4 million from his employer to feed his gambling addiction at SkyCity, spending $50 million over ten years as a VIP high roller.

He went to jail last year, his family was devastated and his employer suffered massive losses, which are expected to never be fully recovered.

In a statement to ONE News reporter Lisa Owen today, SkyCity said it works with the police and other authorities to both identify crime and keep it out of its casinos.

Mana Party leader Hone Harawira is already offering his vote.

" The moral obligation on casinos is because they take so much money out and they know already how much money is coming from poor people and poor communities," he told ONE News.

The National Party could not be reached for comment today, however, the Labour Party said that it is keen to crack down on casino crime in principle and will speak to police and the Serious Fraud Office before it makes a decision on the bill.

The Green Party said its amendment will go into the ballot at Parliament this week.