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Christchurch gambling venue manager pleads guilty to six figure theft


A gambling venue manager in New Zealand has admitted embezzling over NZ$180,000 ($110,000) in gambling grants sourced from proceeds generated by ‘pokie’ machines in Christchurch.

According to a media release by the Department of Internal Affairs, Mark Cini, the former manager of Robbies Riccarton, a class 4 gambling venue in Christchurch, unlawfully obtained NZ$182,761.64 ($110,625) in class 4 grants over a two-year period.

Under New Zealand law, Class 4 gambling pertains to gaming machines situated outside of casinos, typically found in pubs and clubs, as clarified by the DIA on its website. This type of gambling is only permitted to be conducted by a corporate society and solely for the purpose of raising funds for an authorized cause.

The grants in question were acquired from the same society responsible for holding the class 4 venue license for Robbies. They were ostensibly applied for on behalf of cricket-related sporting organizations under Cini’s purview.

Following an investigation by the Department of Internal Affairs, it was uncovered that between 2018 and 2020, Cini “submitted false quotes and instructed his employees to sign grant applications on behalf of various grant recipients to obtain grant funding.”

Vicki Scott, the director of gambling at Internal Affairs, condemned Cini’s actions, describing them as “the worst kind” within the gambling system. Scott emphasized that such behavior, driven by greed, not only defrauds legitimate community organizations of essential grant funding but also undermines the integrity of the gambling framework.

Appearing in the Christchurch District Court, Cini faced conviction on 39 counts of dishonesty offenses under the Crimes Act 1961. These charges encompassed forgery, theft by a person in a special relationship, and dishonestly using a document. Cini is due to be sentenced on June 12.

Frank Schuengel
Frank Schuengel
Frank Schuengel is an online gambling industry veteran with over twenty years of experience in Europe and Asia. Equally at home in the Isle of Man and the Philippines, he started his career as a sports trader before setting up and running whole operations, and more recently focusing on the regulatory and licensing side of things in the worlds of fiat and crypto eGaming. When he is not writing about gambling topics, he can be found cycling around Manila and advocating sustainable transport solutions for a Philippines based mobility magazine.