Christchurch Casino Fined by Judge Moran Because of Underage Guest

On March 14, 2007, the attempt of a Christchurch Casino employee to solve an underage guest incident quietly spiraled out of control and landed them in trouble with the Christchurch District Court.

The casino placed a guilty plea on the charges of allowing the entry of an underage person, a singer who had been invited with her family by New Zealand Judge Frankie Stevens, into the casino. The case was discharged without any punishment but Judge Philip Moran ordered the casino to make a $1,000 donation to the Salvation Army.

The usual rules require the casino to mark down the incident and report it to the Department of Internal Affairs, who has decided to prosecute the casino. Mike Hill, the Director of the Gambling Compliance Group of the Department of Internal Affairs, commented that it was the first time in history that the department has prosecuted one of New Zealand’s 6 gambling casinos for an underage guest offense on the violation of the Gambling Act.

But one of the reasons why they decided to prosecute is because there have been 6 previous incidents at the Christchurch Casino. The Gambling Act places great emphasis on the minimization of harm, like preventing underage gambling. The casino is planning to defend 2 charges at a hearing before Judge Stevens, but they then decided to plead guilty on the case.

The lawyer for the casino, Jonathan Eaton, said that the incident took place in December 2005, after the casino sponsored a concert at the Town Hall which featured Frankie Stevens and her young singer guest. Mr. Stevens invited the singer and her family to a function room, in the casino’s Club Aspinalli. The casino immediately learned that the young singer was only 19 years old.

The incident was dismissed when the woman did not drink or gamble and left the casino immediately with her family. The problem lies in the provisions under the Gambling Act which has not been followed to the letter because the manager approached Mr. Stevens, not the woman directly. Mr. Eaton argued before Judge Moran that an effect of a conviction will be inappropriate for the offense committed.