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.