Sideline Bar loses poker licence

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 09:23 26/08/2014
Sideline Bar
John Kirk-Anderson/Fairfax NZ
LOST ITS BID: Sideline Bar poker machine's licence cancellation will take effect on September 11.

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A Christchurch pub has lost its bid to keep operating poker machines after emails about its operation were leaked to Internal Affairs. 

The Gambling Commission upheld the cancellation of the Sideline Bar's licence to operate pokies over concerns about how its owner, Sonya McIntyre, had sourced funding to buy the Stanmore Rd, Richmond, establishment.

An Internal Affairs investigation began in early 2012, after it received emails between McIntyre and her brother-in-law, well-known pokies operator Ray McIntyre.

Ray McIntyre was involved in the controversial Eureka Trust, which shut down in 2009 after Internal Affairs would not renew its licence. The commission found him unsuitable to be involved in the pokie sector.

Internal Affairs received the emails from Ray McIntyre's estranged wife, Katy.

The emails suggested Ray McIntyre had organised a bank loan to buy the Sideline Bar and organised a handover from the Bluegrass Trust, which owned the bar's poker machines, to another trust called Phoenix.

Phoenix was fronted by Christchurch man Matt Gordon, but Internal Affairs claimed Ray McIntyre was behind it. 

In one email, Ray McIntyre appeared to coach Sonya McIntyre on what to tell investigators when she was interviewed, and to lie about the bar's opening hours.

They showed Ray McIntyre persuaded his lawyer to redact his name from paperwork.

Internal Affairs said the email exchange was an important part of its inquiry.

Bluegrass Trust and Sonya McIntyre's company, Stanmore Star Investments, argued that the licence cancellation was a disporportionate punishment. 

However, the commission found Sonya McIntyre only corrected the false information she gave to gambling inspectors about where she got the money to buy the venue "when it became clear to her that she had been caught out". 

"Her subsequent statements were 'unconvincing and implausible'," it said.  

The commission refused to allow Sonya McIntyre's husband to take over the bar's gambling management to allow the poker machine operation to continue.

Sideline's venue licence cancellation will take effect on September 11.

Internal Affairs acting director of gambling complience Raj Krishnan said the decision showed dishonest behaviour in the gambling sector "will not be tolerated".

The commission was "determined to ensure that those operating in the gambling sector are honest and have integrity".

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"The appearance of even a single example of dishonesty in the course of dealings with the department is a matter of serious concern."

If someone else wanted to run gambling at the bar, they would need to apply for a new licence. 

Bluegrass Trust had its gambling operator's licence cancelled in July last year after an investigation found it had supplied misleading information about three trotting club loans. 

The trust challenged, but the Gambling Commission upheld its decision.

- The Press

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