I'm talking today to Tony Crosbie, Managing Director of Northend Hotel Group, Multi gaming venue operator, National Treasurer of Hospitality NZ (HNZ) and representative for Class 4 Gaming and TAB. Thanks for your time today Tony. Tell me how many HNZ members have gaming machines that you represent?
Out of our total membership we have just under 700 that operate gaming machines.
That’s the majority of the non-club gaming sector, in the last couple of years do you feel that HNZ has stepped up in terms of representing your members individual interests from a gaming perspective rather than leaving it to the gaming trusts ?
What’s made us do that is working with the trusts over the last 2 or 3 years and seeing what they’ve done in the space. It’s made us think that’s something that maybe our members need to be doing but it’s probably not the same as the trust needs. It’s important that we’re our own voice and our own body.
What was your experience of 2018 from a gaming perspective?
The biggest one and I think we all know is the networking and working together and turning around the thinking from the venue operators into the new model of operation that we’re heading for and the initial groundwork of where have to go with the harm min with the venue operators. That’s what we’re going to be doing in 2019 with Hospitality New Zealand rolling out new training.
Would you say that there’s been an emergence of HNZ into a leadership role?
Yes, we’ve basically woken up as an organisation and grown up a bit and realized that there are some issues that are for us and that it’s HNZ who need to take a lead in that.
Any views on the Government and how you see the working relationship with the new Minister?
I thought that for this year we’ve had, both through the Gaming Machine Association of NZ (GMANZ) and HNZ, we met with the Minister a few times and had some positive dialogue with her. It was pleasing to see her wanting to work with us closely to achieve what she thought was needed which was basically work together to keep the harm minimization a focus and she believes that will help her and help keep the sector headed in the right direction.
The Minister spoke at a couple of big conferences and she made it very very clear that she’s working closely with Hospitality New Zealand and she’s very positive about the working relationship to achieve what has to be done.
What is your focus for 2019 as far as gaming is concerned?
Our main point is obviously for HNZ to take an active part in representing venue operators on GMANZ and further to look after the members and represent them on the government side of things. The big one for our members is to roll out a training module that is a recognized fit to meet our harm minimization requirements and obligations. In 2019 our total focus is to roll that out and to keep working with the delegates and members around the country to meet and talk together about issues that come up for them as operators.
You have had some personal success too in 2018. Your venue, the Richard Pearse, was the winner of the IGT Excellence in Gaming Award. Congratulations.
Thank you but the credit goes to my managers and staff there. The Excellence in Gaming is an award that focuses on the harm minimization and customer service systems in place to ensure players have a safe and comfortable environment. We work very hard on these things even going as far as appointing an in-house Compliance Manager. We aim to build and maintain close relationships with players and rather than restrict our business the venue is more popular than ever. If I have any final message for the industry is that we must take host responsibility seriously. We have shown we can do it with alcohol and now it's time to bring gaming up to the same standard.