BUSINESS

New Zealand’s SkyCity to introduce online casino before year’s end

TAGs: New Zealand, skycity entertainment group

New Zealand-based SkyCity Entertainment Group is going to introduce a real-money online casino before the end of the year. Given that its home country does not have any regulations governing online gambling, the company doesn’t plan on basing the platform in New Zealand, or in Australia where the activity is also not permitted. This means that the gambling site will most likely be established somewhere in Europe.

New Zealand’s SkyCity to introduce online casino before year's endSkyCity has been contemplating an online gaming platform for some time and the company’s CEO, Graeme Stephens, announced last August that the casino operator was ready to move forward with its plans. While not yet having decided where to offer the new platform, SkyCity spokesman Colin Espiner indicates that Europe is a “fair summisation, given that’s where most online gaming is based.”

Just because the platform isn’t based in New Zealand doesn’t mean that Kiwis won’t be able to access the site. SkyCity indicates that it won’t offer at-home marketing, but there’s nothing stopping local gamblers from hearing about the site via word of mouth (or through media outlets that routinely provide casino and gambling coverage).

Only casino-related games will be offered through the portal—no sports gambling. SkyCity doesn’t anticipate a huge following, but asserts that it could produce as much as NZ$40 million (US$27.35 million) in tax revenue for New Zealand. However, since online gaming isn’t legal in the country, those funds might not be accepted by the government. In this case, SkyCity is prepared to give them to charitable organizations in New Zealand.

Espiner adds that the company recognizes its social responsibilities, regardless of whether or not regulations exist. He adds that SkyCity is fully prepared to monitory the gambling activity and intervene if it feels a player is exhibiting signs of gambling problems.

The move doesn’t sit well with Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin, who states that she is “disappointed that [SkyCity is] forging ahead.” She adds that the government is powerless to stop it, due to the lack of regulations, and that this “highlights how inadequate these laws are – it’s not just for them, but also the huge number of offshore gambling games that are coming into New Zealand now … that we have no way to control.”

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