SkyCity Auckland set for December 3 reopening

By Ethan Anderson Updated
SkyCity unable to issue dividends in 2022

SkyCity Entertainment has targeted December 3 to reopen its flagship Auckland casino.

Inside Asian Gaming reports that following the New Zealand government confirming plans to convert to a new COVID-19 alert system, venues will be allowed to stay open but with three tiers of restrictions in place.

It is expected that Auckland will be placed under the strictest red setting, meaning venues will be open to vaccinated individuals only and with certain capacity and social distancing restrictions in place.

SkyCity recently announced that it would require all staff and visitors to its New Zealand casinos and resorts to be fully vaccinated regardless of the alert setting.

The company said it expects to reopen SkyCity Auckland from December 3, including casino, entertainment and accommodation facilities.

“The SkyCity Auckland property will reopen in a staged manner with health and safety measures in place to reflect the Ministry of Health’s latest recommendations and guidelines,” it said.

SkyCity Auckland suspended operations on August 17 due to an outbreak of the Delta variant of COVID-19 in New Zealand’s most populous city.

New chairman appointed by SkyCity

A successor to outgoing SkyCity chairman Rob Campbell has been announced.

Julian Cook has been appointed the new SkyCity chair, with the former director, who joined the SkyCity board in June, set to take over as group chairman from January 1, with the coming weeks designated to ensure an “orderly transition and handover period.”

Campbell announced in October that he would stand down at the end of the year to focus on other work commitments.

“We have made significant progress over the past year to refresh the SkyCity board and I am delighted that Julian has been selected by the SkyCity board to lead SkyCity and the new chair from January 1,” Campbell said.

Cook was previously the chief executive officer of retirement village operator Summerset Group Holdings from 2014 to 2021 and until 2010 was a director at Macquarie Group.

He is currently a director at electricity distribution company WEL Networks and at Winton Property.

Vaccinated patrons only for SkyCity

Casino operator SkyCity Entertainment will only allow fully vaccinated people into its New Zealand venues when they reopen.

Chief executive Michael Ahearne has told the company’s annual meeting that the new traffic light system will allow it to reopen its larger casinos and hotels.

“Accordingly, our intention is that all SkyCity properties in New Zealand will operate as vaccination-only venues when the new framework comes into effect – a decision that has been made with the health and safety of our staff and customers in mind.”

The vaccine mandate would apply to all its 2900 employees, as well as customers, contractors and visitors to any of its New Zealand venues.

“As one of the biggest entertainment venues in New Zealand, and a significant employer in New Zealand, we need to take measures to help keep Kiwis safe,” Ahearne said.

Ahearne repeated that the current lockdowns were costing the company about $1 million a day in lost earnings, and a forecast of full-year earnings was not possible.

“Trading over the course of the first half of the financial year has been materially impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions, in particular the ongoing lockdown in the Auckland region and, consequently, the company’s first-half earnings are expected to be impacted from the difficult trading conditions.”

He said the recently refurbished Adelaide casino in South Australia had been closed only briefly but was now trading the social distancing and other restrictions activity was subdued.

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