Earlier this year all clubs that operate Class 4 Gaming Machines will have received the Gamble Host Pack for clubs produced by the Health Promotion Agency in conjunction with Clubs New Zealand.

The Department of Internal Affairs recently issued an update to a short section in one of the Gamble Host Pack resources - Gambling Host Responsibility Guide for Venue Staff - that relates to breaches of exclusion order requirements.

"Any operator, manager or person acting on their behalf that knowingly fails to exclude a self-identified problem gambler or knowingly fails to remove an excluded person may be convicted and fined up to $10,000."

Recent amendments in the Gambling Act has meant that the sentence above, found on page 17 of the guide under the heading "Fines", is now out of date.  The recent amendments have altered the onus of proof and changed the fine from a $10,000 to a $5,000 maximum.

Section 312 amendment

The Gambling Amendment Act 2015 revised section 312 of the Gambling Act, and states that a venue manager or person acting on their behalf commits an offence if they;

  • allow a person who is subject to an exclusion order under section 310(1) to enter the gambling area of a class 4 venue; or
  • fails to remove a person who has entered those areas;
    • in breach of an exclusion order issued under section 310(1); or
    • in breach of a condition of re-entry imposed under section 310(2)

This new wording changes the onus of proof for a charge relating to an exclusion order.  Previously venue personnel committed an offence if they allowed an excluded gambler to enter the gambling area of a venue, but only if they knowingly allowed this to happen.  The amendments in the Act now mean that an offence is committed if an excluded person enters the gambling area of a venue.  In this case there is 'an absence of fault defence' for situations where the venue manager, or person acting on their behalf, has reasonable ground to believe there were effective procedures in place to prevent excluded gamblers from entering the venue and took all reasonable steps to ensure that the procedures were complied with.

The penalty for breaches of this section by venue manager, or person acting on their behalf, has also changed from a maximum penalty of $10,000 to a maximum of $5,000.

Clubs New Zealand highly recommend that all clubs operating Class 4 Gaming Machines take the time to review their policies and procedures to ensure that excluded individuals are not able to access the gambling areas in your club.  This may involve ensuring that during weekly staff meetings time is dedicated to reviewing the excluded gamblers file to allow staff to familiarise themselves with who must not be allowed into the gambling areas.

Clubs must not become complacent around harm minimisation and a proactive approach must always be adopted.

For more information on harm minimisation please contact Clubs New Zealand on 0800 4 CLUBS.