Auckland, New Zealand Illegal Gambling House Attacked, Thieves Steal Thousands in Cash

Hosting a pick-up poker game at home is one thing. Running an underground poker room is something else. With no protection or security, an illegal poker room in New Zealand became the target of thieves this week, who made off with thousands of dollars.

Auckland, New Zealand
The skyline of Auckland, New Zealand with its Sky Tower prominently rising above the skyline. A suburban home in the city masquerading as a poker room became a target of thieves last weekend. (Image: Expatolife)

Three armed intruders attacked the illicit card room this past weekend in Auckland, which was only a house in appearances. The New Zealand Herald reports no arrests have been made, although detectives have been busy with a forensic examination of the site to look for clues.

In addition to losing an unknown amount of money, there could be further repercussions. Because of the illegal gambling, it’s possible that at least a few of those still present when police arrived could face charges for their involvement.

Police Working the Scene

Investigators took statements from as many of the players as they could. It’s likely that some of the gamblers took off after the heist and before the police arrived. They won’t get far, though. Cars owned by the players, including a high-end Porsche with a Mandarin Chinese name and custom plates, remained in front of the property, providing additional clues.

During the heist, which occurred around 1 a.m. Saturday, the attackers held everyone at gunpoint, according to the witness accounts. Meanwhile, they began bagging the gamblers’ personal effects and any money they could find.

The trio then left before abandoning the car they used in Avondale, approximately 8 km (4.8 miles) away. At the time, the police were already on the case. It isn’t clear if the thieves ditched the car to throw the hunters off the scent.

Apparently, neighbors knew about the illegal poker games, but didn’t bother reporting the activity. They told police that it was normal to see well-dressed men and women arriving at and leaving the house at different times.

Investigators are still trying to figure out who’s behind the heist. Inside information has to have come either from someone who attended a game as a player or worker, or from a neighbor.

Not a Home Poker Game

While the poker room was located inside a house, this doesn’t make it a home poker game. A pick-up game among friends sitting around a dining room table is legal in New Zealand. However, running a sophisticated operation inside a home isn’t.

A private game covers a group of friends gathered in a private home for a night of gambling. All stakes must become part of the winnings, and the organizer can’t take a rake.

A company can offer a poker game with winnings, according to the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs (DIA). However, it must give the proceeds to charity or use them “for purposes beneficial to the community.”

It’s technically possible to convert a house into a gambling parlor, as long as the property receives approval for the activity and can secure a license. That requires a mountain of paperwork and bureaucratic red tape, and isn’t likely to find support.

The DIA confirmed that this wasn’t the case for this particular property. As a result, the owner or tenant of the house, which someone recently renovated to expressly offer poker, could be in trouble with the law.