Friday, April 20, 2012

"A careful eye"

SkyCity runs a casino. It is in one of the most socially harmful businesses in the country, and as a result it is tightly regulated. Under the terms of its licence, it is required to provide reports to the Gambling Commission every six months on its host responsibility programme, and the Gambling Commission is supposed to formally review that programme every two years to ensure it is doing its job of minimising problem gambling.

Except they're not. The programme has never been reviewed, and the Gambling Commission has quietly put the review on the back-burner because they're "too busy". So much for Steven Joyce's promise that they would be "keep[ing] a careful eye on SkyCity".

But this isn't just Joyce's fault. SkyCity was operating - and not being reviewed - long before he came to Parliament. And the problem is not one of underfunding - browsing back through past annual reports, it seems that the Commission consistently underspends its budget, in one case by 35%. The problem is either one of governance, or the interface with the Department of Internal Affairs, which is legally obliged to service them. Either way, its unacceptable, and needs to be sorted out.

Meanwhile, I'm wondering: are any New Zealand casinos being properly monitored? There's only one way to find out...