Bluegrass may fight loss of licence

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 05:00 08/08/2014

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The Bluegrass Trust is considering appealing a Gambling Commission decision to cancel its operating licence, chairman Peter Gurr says.

Gurr said the trust was seeking advice, but its preliminary view was the decision was flawed, both legally and factually. It would decide next week whether to appeal it to the High Court.

"We think there are some issues and we'll probably have to ask the High Court to have a look."

Bluegrass Holdings has been closed by the Department of Internal Affairs after the Gaming Commission upheld a decision that its licence had been obtained through deception. Blenheim man Michael O'Brien had been deemed "not suitable" but had been a key person in the trust's operations, the commission found.

O'Brien declined to comment.

Bluegrass Holdings Ltd owns gaming machines at eight pubs in Blenheim, Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington and Nelson.

Gurr, a Blenheim electrician who has chaired the trust since November 2012, said the trust had done everything it could to address the concerns raised by the department. The commission's decision also recognised it was not clear what more the trust directors could have done, he said.

That decision spelt out that the directors had ruled out O'Brien from any involvement in the trust's operations and that Gurr had explicitly told the trust's manager Roebyna Bak not to involve O'Brien, but she continued to have contact with him.

The department said it had emails that showed O'Brien still had influence over the trust and its activities.

"In my time as chairman, he's had no involvement at all," Gurr said. The board was confident Bluegrass complied with all of its obligations.

The department was making things difficult for Bluegrass' venues, Gurr said. The trust had tried to make sure they were looked after, but had "met with a brick wall".

"We think we do a lot of good for community causes, so the biggest disappointment probably is that the causes we support might miss out if we're not around." 

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- The Marlborough Express

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