Las Vegas Sands to Launch Anti-Online Gambling Website

Last week, Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson made it known that he is opposed to online gambling. He stated that the industry is cancerous and toxic, and has recently decided to take his cause further by launching a new anti-online gambling website.

According to the Poker Players Association (PPA), Adelson has purchased the domain ‘’. On the homepage, there is a long message denouncing internet poker and online gambling – in line with the comments that were made by Adelson earlier in the week.

“Is it worth the societal and economic risk to produce more revenue for the government?” the message reads. “Internet gambling by definition will do away with tens of thousands of casino-based jobs and will take us down a slippery path from which we will never be able to turn back”.

The message also mentions that players of any age can gamble online and that identity theft is more likely in the digital world. There are plenty of arguments that oppose online gambling, and Adelson wants to make them all known.

There are also many benefits of legalizing online gambling, however. It is important to remember that there are two sides to the issue, and that Adelson’s arguments are not entirely truthful.

Auckland Researchers Conduct World’s Largest Problem Gambling Trial

In New Zealand, problem gambling rates are on the rise. Local researchers want to determine the best possible way to treat gambling addiction, so they are currently studying the epidemic. AUT University has recently published a study called ‘The Effectiveness of Problem Gambling Brief Telephone Interventions: A Randomised Controlled Trial’, which involved over 400 gambling addicts.

This is one of the first studies of its kind to involve real problem gamblers rather than volunteers. Problem gamblers who called into a local helpline were provided with one of four options, and the research team followed up with the individuals afterwards. The options were:

(1) the helpline standard treatment
(2) a single motivational interview
(3) a single motivational interview plus a cognitive behavioural self-help book
(4) the interview plus the workbook plus four follow-up motivational telephone interviews

While the research team expected the recipients of the more intensive treatment to fare better, all participants experienced similar results. According to Professor Max Abbott, who lead the study, all forms of problem gambling intervention are effective.

So, the key is for problem gamblers to seek help. With some assistance, they can overcome their issues – but they have to be presented with treatment options from friends, family members or even casino staff.

New Zealand Gambling Spending Falls

In New Zealand, gambling spending is on the decline. According to statistics released by the Department of Internal Affairs, Kiwis spent 4% less on gambling than they had in the previous year. Local responsible gambling advocates have taken this to mean that residents are becoming more aware of the potential harms of gambling.

As a result of the fall in spending, several other gambling-related numbers have taken a dive. For example, the number of gaming license holders has fallen to 353 from 359 in 2012. The total number of pokies has also declined. In 2012, there were 18 001 pokies; now, there are just 17 542.

While a decline in spending may be negative for gaming clubs and the gambling industry as a whole, it is positive thing for local residents. Over the course of the past few years, gambling addiction numbers have climbed to an all-time high in New Zealand. Local politicians have been working hard to reduce problem gambling rates, and their efforts are paying off.

The introduction of MP Te Ururoa Flavell’s Harm Reduction Bill seems to have alerted locals to the harms of gambling. The bill has received a great deal of media attention, and it is likely to have discouraged some punters from wagering on pokies in the past year.

BNZ Closes SkyCity Branch

After coming under fire from responsible gambling advocates many times, SkyCity’s Bank of New Zealand location has finally closed. Neither the casino operator nor BNZ has provided any specifics on why this has been the case – but we imagine it is likely due to the number of scandals in which the bank has been involved.

Last year, Herminia Lanuza stole more than $2 million from her employer using the BNZ branch. She then gambled the money away at SkyCity VIP room. Accountant Richard Watson was also involved in a scandal with BNZ, using the bank to steal $5.5 million in order to fund his problem gambling habit.

The bank’s location and opening hours (14 hours a day) was not believed to be entirely responsible. During a time when politicians want to remove ATMs from gambling venues, it seems that a casino-based bank was not conducive to promoting New Zealand’s new harm reduction strategies. At any time, a problem gambler could not only withdraw money but also cash cheques and conduct other banking.

“Banks and ATMs close to where people gamble are not a good idea,” says Problem Gambling Foundation chief executive Graeme Ramsey.

It seems like a wise move for both SkyCity and BNZ. The bank will be relocating the new future, but has yet to announce where its new branch will be.

NZ Politician Goes to Court to Fight Gambling Accusations

It has been over a month since MP Brendan Horan was accused to stealing money from his late mother’s estate to fund his gambling habit, and he is still fighting to clear his name. Although he has been forced out of NZ First, he has refused to resign from Parliament – and he hopes that he can obtain the information to clear his name and resume his career.

In early December, Horan’s family members stated that he had stolen thousands of dollars from his dying mother in order to spend money on gambling. Phone records showed that he called TabCorp hundreds of times over the course of a few months, but the politician has maintained his innocence.

To fight the claims, Horan has enlisted in the help of the court system. He plans to take legal action against the individual who is in charge of his late mother’s estate, claiming that this person is withholding the information necessary to clear his name. Horan states that his mother spent most of the money herself and that he had done nothing wrong.

Should he obtain the necessary information, Horan could prove his innocence not only to the general public but also to his political peers. However, NZ First may be reluctant to allow him to re-join, as leader Winston Peters has already dismissed Horan for shaming the party.

NZ Politician Accused of Gambling-Related Theft

MP Brendan Horan, formerly of the NZ First Party, has been accused of stealing money from his late mother in order to fund his problem gambling habit. The accusations have cost him his place in the political party and his reputation in New Zealand’s political world.

The crime was reported last week by Mana Ormsby, brother of Brendan Horan. He claims that their mother accused him of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from her bank account in order to gamble, and that she wanted the money returned to her estate. Horan has denied the claims, but this has not prevented his name from being tarnished.

Winston Peters, head of the NZ First Party, expelled Horan shortly after hearing the news. Although Horan has pleaded his innocence, Peters stated that he has sufficient evidence to prove that he has scandalized NZ First.

Phone records show that Horan made 144 calls to TAB over the course of a ten month period while a number of ‘questionable’ cheques have been presented as evidence. Still, Horan maintains that he is innocent, and he has gained the support of the Maori Party. Prime Minister John Key has also stated that there is not enough evidence to prove Horan’s guilt at the moment. An official investigation is on-going.

Does Facebook Encourage Underage Gambling?

Facebook is the premiere provider of social games. The platform offers players around the world a vast collection of fun titles that can be shared with friends; however, there are concerns that these games could encourage underage gambling.

According to NewsTalk ZB, many cases of underage gambling begin on the internet. Although sites like Facebook do not require players to spend any money in order to play, many of the titles are based on casino games (ie. Zynga Poker, Double Down Casino). Children have access to these play-money casino games, which exposes them to gambling.

Additionally, play-money games can be more harmful than actual casino games. Since players do not lose real cash, inexperienced gamblers may develop unrealistic perceptions about gambling.

“They often get onto Facebook,” says Dr. Sean Sullivan. “There’s a huge amount of gambling available on there and it’s called gaming”.

Many recent studies in New Zealand have shown that simply exposing children to gambling can lead to their development of gambling problems later on in life. As such, social games inadvertently contribute to the problem.

SkyCity Hamilton’s Pensioners Bus Comes Under Fire

SkyCity Hamilton offers a twice weekly bus service for pensioners who want to visit the casino. Many seniors take advantage of the bus service, looking for something fun and exciting to do during the week. However, not everyone likes the idea of a casino bus service for pensioners, and the NZ Problem Gambling Foundation has spoken out on the issue.

According to the foundation, the casino bus encourages vulnerable individuals to gamble. As senior citizens may not be able to afford gambling activities, the organization believes that it is harmful for a casino operator to transport them to a casino several times per week.

“If you have something like a free bus service taking people to the casino there needs to be safeguards in place,” says Roger Taylor of anti-gambling organization U3A.

However, SkyCity does not see the harm in doing so. The casino operator believes that a casino bus is no different from a pub bus or transportation service to any other gambling venue. Plenty of tour companies and casinos across the country offer similar services, and SkyCity does not believe that it should be penalized for a service that aims to benefit senior citizens.

Should Casinos Pay Back Profits Derived From Crime?

As reports continue to surface about individuals using stolen money to gamble, politicians have raised a new issue concerning the responsibility of casino operators. They believe that casinos should be financially responsible for the money that is stolen from individuals to gamble, a controversial new perspective.

According to ONE News, Denise Roche of the Greens believe that stolen money should go back to those from whom it was taken. On behalf of her party, she states that casinos are the only ones that do not suffer when it comes to theft:

“The addict is jailed, and loses their job, their family and friends. Their employer can be ruined,” says Roche. “But the casino is better off as a result of the crime”.

The Greens stance has already inspired a great deal of support. Hone Harawira of the Mana Party has already stated that he backs the initiative. He believes that casinos have a moral obligation, and that operators should offer some financial assistance to those who have been affected by gambling theft.

SkyCity In Trouble Over Texts to Barred Gamblers

Sky City has enacted an exclusion program, in which individuals who exhibit addictive behaviour are barred from various Sky City Casino locations. However, one individual has been ‘coaxed’ back into gambling at the casino, thanks to a number of text messages from the operator.

Selina Watson and her husband, Richard, spent over $50 million at Sky City Casinos over the course of the past few years. Richard Watson is currently in jail, having been sentenced to six years after stealing over $5 million from his employer. Subsequently, the couple was barred from Sky City Auckland, Christchurch and Hamilton. Should they have attempted to enter the casinos, they would have been charged with trespassing.

Now, it has been revealed that Sky City has allegedly attempted to ‘lure’ Selina Watson back to the casino with a number of promotional texts. The issue was brought to the attention of the Department of Internal Affairs, which could jeopardize the casino operator’s host responsibilities.

Sky City Casinos has apologized to Selina Watson and asks any other barred gamblers to come forward if they have received similar texts. The operator states that the texts were a result of a computer glitch.