SkyCity Auckland convention centre project granted extension

By Ethan Anderson Updated
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New Zealand and Australian casino operator SkyCity Entertainment has been given more time to complete its Auckland convention centre project.

Inside Asian Gaming reports that the casino group has reached an agreement with the New Zealand government to extend the date for completion of the New Zealand International Convention Centre project from 2 January 2025 to 15 December 2027.

While the company is still targeting a 2024 finish date, it said the additional time provides a buffer between the programme date and the long stop date under its New Zealand International Convention Centre Project and Licensing Agreement.

Regulatory concessions granted to SkyCity under the NZICC Agreement are unchanged.

The extension comes after SkyCity Auckland suffered a huge blaze on the roof of the US$520 million development in October 2019, which saw casino operations temporarily shut down and guests evacuated.

“SkyCity intends to provide a further update on the NZICC project on August 25, when it releases its FY21 result to the market,” the company said.

“SkyCity advises that there is no material change to previous guidance for the total project costs of around $750 million.”

SkyCity’s future prospects should rise, according to forecasts

SkyCity is expecting a normalised net profit after tax between NZ$84 million and NZ$88 million in 2021, compared with NZ$66.3 million last financial year, a 33 per cent spike.

The company’s local gaming business in New Zealand has continued to see strong performance, while its Australian casino, SkyCity Adelaide, has shown consistent performance.

The company has already recently established an offshore online gaming arm, SkyCity Malta, which has produced consistent performances.

“SkyCity’s tourism-related businesses in New Zealand and South Australia continue to be impacted by ongoing border closures, excluding the Trans-Tasman border, which reopened on April 19, but are benefitting from positive domestic tourism, particularly on weekend and holiday peaks,” the company said.

SkyCity said it expects to comfortably meet its financial covenants for the June 30 testing period and therefore pay a final dividend in September.

Junkets off the table at SkyCity

In the wake of explosive revelations into the conduct of Crown Casinos in Melbourne and Perth, SkyCity moved swiftly in April to ban junket operators from its venues.

SkyCity said it has determined to permanently cease dealing with all junket operators and will instead operate its International Business under a revised operating model.

That model will see SkyCity “deal directly with International Business patrons after appropriate Know Your Customer and customer due diligence requirements are satisfied.”

The company added that it will consult with relevant gaming regulators in New Zealand, where it operates casinos in Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington and in Australia, where it recently completed an A$330 million upgrade of SkyCity Adelaide.

Crown Resorts has already announced a similar ban on working with junket operators, while regulators in WA, home to Crown Perth, have implemented a junket ban of their own.

The decision to bring SkyCity’s international VIP operations in-house was made following the conclusion of a strategic review into the company’s International Business division.

The ban followed the decision by Crown Resorts to suspend its junket operations, shortly before the release of a report into the suitability of the operator to hold a casino licence in New South Wales.

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