An illegal den was being operated in one of Auckland’s wealthiest suburbs. The croupier who managed to generate NZ $10,000 by operating the den was able to evade a fine because he had spent all the money. The croupier, a 26-year-old student came before the Auckland District Court turned penniless.
The illegal gambling den was discovered after police were investigating a break-in and serious assault in the neighbourhood. The NZ $1million Parnell townhouse was converted by Markus Grozdanovski into a gambling den full of large gambling tables and smoke alarms taped over.
A year-long investigation was conducted by the Department of Internal Affairs with Grozdanovski being on the radar for quite some time. He was warned over dealing in another illegal gambling operation. However, undeterred by the previous caution, Grozdanovski dealt around 55 poker games at his new venue which was rented by two co-defendants.
The student was able to pocket over NZ $10,000 in cash tips from players over the course of six months. However, he showed up infront of the judge with no money to his name. His lawyer Nid Satjipanon said the student still lived with his parents and had no income. The accused was therefore in no position to pay for the fine.
Judge Mathers had the following to say “Another aggravating feature is the fact that you had held a licence when you were working at a casino in Auckland and you would have been well aware of the consequences to you if you entered into this type of operation”
An operation such is the one carried out by Grozdanovski carries a maximum sentence of a year in jail or a fine of NZ $20,000. The judge did give him credit for cooperating with DIA, showing remorse and the lack of previous convictions. As a result, he was handed a sentence of 100 hours community work.
She added “I hope that you can get on with your university studies and get on with life”
Another man that was arrested in conjunction with the operation plead not guilty and will appear before the court later this month. Another accused failed to appear before the court and a warrant has been issued for his arrest. Both accused have been charged with multiple offences which include providing credit and equipment for illegal gambling, making a profit from illegal gambling and for allowing the townhouse to be used as a venue.
In New Zealand private gambling not for commercial gain is perfectly legal. However, that tips to the practice being illegal if the group offer a prize of more than NZ $5000 and turn over a profit of more than NZ $25,000. If that profit amount is generated for commercial gain without license then it is deemed as illegal.
Grozdanovski has realised the error of his ways and acknowledges that he messed up. He had the following to say in his defence “I was a student with no job so when someone offered me a job dealing poker I accepted,” he said. He was keen to stress he did not blow the money he made on “getting p***ed”. “I just used it to pay my rent and buy food,”