Will the Government stand up for victims, or the Casino?

The National Government has grandstanded about standing up for victims. But given a chance to do something meaningful for the victims of gambling-related crime, they’re backing their mates at the Casino instead.

My Criminal Proceeds (Application to Casinos) Amendment Bill is a chance to protect New Zealand businesses from the harm of gambling crime. It is due to be voted on by Parliament tonight.

It would help ensure that money stolen from small business owners, and community organisations, is given back to them if its been shown to have been stolen to gamble at a casino.

Every year there are several cases where a gambling addict is convicted of stealing huge sums of money from their employer. The thief is jailed, the business destroyed, but the casino gets to bank the proceeds. That’s not fair.

When Richard Arthur Watson stole $5,495,000 from his employer to gamble, Skycity treated him as a VIP high roller.

My Bill says that if the casino should have been aware his gambling was likely to be as a result of crime, it can’t keep the proceeds.

The Government says there are existing laws that ensure that Casinos clamp down on money laundering and crime. There are, but none of those laws ensure the state can take the proceeds back off the casino if it doesn’t do that job properly.

ACT’s John Banks, who once railed against the “wide boys” at the casino (till they helped fund his mayoral campaign) reckons my Bill would only get the money off the casino, but not return it those it’s been stolen from.

He’s being disingenuous.

Anyone can apply for a an order to the court if they have a claim to some property. The trick, and my bill does this, is to get the property off the person it doesn’t belong to first.

A vote against my Bill today is a vote against small businesses and victims of gambling crime.

6 Comments Posted

  1. People are not victims of the Casino they are victims of themselves and need to be responsible for their own actions. If this became law then the Govt.(taxes on Casino profits etc.) TAB and any other person or enterprise should also be held accountable to repay earnings on stolen money.

  2. dave – yes, theft is theft, but the impact is greater on a small business than it is on a big business because the small business could go bankrupt because of it – that is the difference.

  3. I’m afraid this being a successful law will depend on some pretty extraordinary mind-reading capabilities, and a total revision of how we address the use of any and all funds acquired as a result of crime.
    For instance. If a bank robber buys a new car, should the dealer they bought it from be required to refund the purchase price to the person robbed?
    I think the issues this bill raise are far broader than at first aparent, and need some very significant analysis before this gets through Committee stage.
    As for the impact on Small Business, why is it different to the impact on medium or large business. Theft is theft, so if a gambler defrauds Telecom of $10,000 and leaves it behind on the casino table, is this any different to them defrauding Bill & Ben’s Steel Engineering Ltd. of the same amount?

  4. But you have to start somewhere – if others have refinements to make, then good. The discussion has at least begun.

  5. I read this bill the first time it was mentioned on this blog, and then read the legislation it amends. In principle, it isn’t a bad idea, but it seems fraught with difficulties.

    Firstly, there is the old “how is the casino supposed to know” question? High net worth individuals often dump 9,999.00 a go into casinos, how is the casino to know which funds are ill gotten?

    Secondly, there is an assumption that the technologies used for problem gamblers will enable detection of laundered money. That’s a non-starter as well, for the same reason.

    So, this looks “hard” to me. But lets see how it goes.

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