SkyCity Auckland exposed for letting banned gambler play for 28 hours

By Mia Chapman Updated
SkyCity unable to issue dividends in 2022

A gambler was allowed to play at SkyCity Auckland for 28 consecutive hours, according to a Department of Internal Affairs report.

The New Zealand-headquartered casino operator’s flagship casino was found to be negligent in its oversight and highlighted one instance where an individual who should never been inside the casino was allowed to gamble for 28 hours in a row.

The gambler was on an exclusion list, but this didn’t stop him from sitting in front of poker machines for extended periods.

On one occasion, he racked up 14-and-a-half-hours playing.

On another, he spent 28 hours gambling before anyone questioned him.

The Department of Internal Affairs audit determined that some employees at the casino had a “dismissive attitude” toward responsible gambling and that the property routinely failed to carry out risk assessments.

Gaming time limits program not working effectively

It also discovered that over half of those individuals who signed up for gaming time limits were able to gamble well beyond the established thresholds.

In addition, there exists a “high likelihood” that minors are able to enter the casino and gamble.

This isn’t going to sit well with legislators and the current anti-gambling sentiment.

The unwanted exposure isn’t going to benefit SkyCity or casino markets anywhere.

New Zealand Minister of Internal Affairs Jan Tinetti, explained the highlighted discrepancy could lead to a full investigation into the country’s casinos.

That would be subsequent to a review already underway.

Officials are exploring how to crack down on poker machines found at area bars and other facilities.

As a result, it’s likely that SkyCity’s failings will result in a major shift in how, when and where gambling machines operate in New Zealand.

For its part, SkyCIty asserts that it has already made changes to correct the failings.

A company spokesperson reportedly stated that the audit resulted in updated policies and procedures related to responsible gambling.

The spokesperson explained that an increase in the use of facial recognition and improved training across the company help mitigate any issues.

This isn’t the first audit SkyCity failed.

Tinetti is now exploring why the DIA has not taken any serious action against the company.

SkyCity capacity restrictions end

Capacity restrictions at SkyCity’s three New Zealand properties are no longer subject to capacity restrictions on social distancing measures.

SkyCity said via a filing that mask wearing is still required for staff but not for customers and there would no longer be a requirement to show proof of vaccination or scan QR codes to enter.

The relaxed rules came two days after New Zealand reopened its border to fully-vaccinated Australians with the first flights since mid-2021 landing on April 12.

International arrivals from nations subject to New Zealand’s visa-waiver program, including the United States, United Kingdom, Singapore, Japan, South Korea and most of Europe will be permitted entry from 1 May 2022.

Despite recent disruption to its business as a result of New Zealand’s strict COVID-19 rules, SkyCity said it has remained earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation and cash flow positive during its peak disruption periods of February and March, with steady improvement in visitation seen in March and early April.

Gaming machine activity on weekends has also returned to pre-COVID levels at SkyCity Auckland SkyCity Hamilton, the company said.

“Given limited visibility of the ramp-up of performance as operating restrictions are relaxed, SkyCity is not in a position to provide detailed earnings guidance for FY22 at this time, but this will remain under review,” SkyCity said.

“SkyCity remains positive on the medium-term outlook for the Group, including a return to FY19 earnings when fully operational and growing from there.”

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