Posted on: December 13, 2021, 11:22h.
Last updated on: December 13, 2021, 12:08h.
The Grinch has come to New Zealand early this year. A company that specializes in “casino entertainment” suffered a theft last week that could force the company its future.
Las Vegas Functions has operated in the Kiwi market for over 40 years. However, as it was preparing to host an event in Christchurch next week, thieves made off with the company’s supplies, according to New Zealand media outlet Stuff.
The theft reportedly took place last Wednesday after thieves managed to get their hands on a storage trailer used by Las Vegas Functions. The trailer was taken, broken into, and ransacked.
Golden Nugget Heirloom
The thieves took casino chips, card dispensers and several other items.
However, the biggest loss for the company was their roulette wheel that was once part of the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas. It is said to date back to the 1950s.
A reward for the return of the items is expected to be provided, although that hasn’t been confirmed. The company is hoping it can determine how to proceed with next week’s function.
A police report was filed and an investigation has begun. It isn’t clear if there is any surveillance footage that may help provide clues. But moving a massive, wooden roulette wheel won’t be easy. Even as decoration, it would stand out like a sore thumb.
A Family Affair
Las Vegas Functions has its roots in fundraising. It was started by Ian Hastings, a former police officer from Auckland. At the time it began in the 1970s, he was looking for creative ways to raise money for local basketball teams.
Hastings put together casino gambling nights, which turned out to be a huge success. He upped his game with a trip to Vegas in 1983 to see how the pros worked. He landed at the now-shuttered Hotel Riviera, which then held the all-wooden roulette wheel.
When the property closed, Hastings was able to pick up the iconic piece to use as part of his gambling arsenal. It remained the highlight until its theft.
In 2017, Debbie Williams took over the family business, keeping Las Vegas Functions busy. There were times that as many as five functions would be held in a single day. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, changed that. Recently, a good month would be one that had eight events in an entire month.
“I’m more gutted for Deb, who took over the business and has been faced with the Covid nightmare. It hasn’t been easy for her for the last couple of years, and this doesn’t help,” Hastings said.
Theft isn’t a problem that’s going to go away anytime soon. Sometimes, the robbers get away with the goods. On some occasions, though, there’s a happy ending. Perhaps this will be one of those occasions.