Gambling and entertainment company SkyCity has made a sudden change in its plans to close its gaming tables and operate only poker machines at its casinos after the move was revealed by local media.
New Zealand anti-gambling campaigners have welcomed the giant’s change of plans saying that common sense came out victorious.
The local Gambling Commission provided SkyCity with interim permission to operate only its pokie terminals at its casinos in Queenstown and Hamilton until the end of Alert Level One due to the coronavirus pandemic. The reason why the gambling giant insisted on the poker machine operations highlighting the softening market. Apart from that, the casino operator had also filed an application for permanent relaxing of the rule under which they are always required to operate no less than one table game at their casino premises – Condition 8. The rule is also applicable to the SkyCity’s casino in Auckland.
The move aimed at the operation of pokies only had been found shocking by the Problem Gambling Foundation. The anti-gambling campaigners have once again highlighted that poker machines, also known as pokies, are the most addictive form of gambling.
SkyCity Asked New Zealand’s Gambling Commission to Change Condition 8
The local media Stuff, however, reported about the SkyCity’s applications to the Gambling Commission. After that, the casino giant quickly changed its plans and revealed that it would withdraw its request for a permanent change to be made in Condition 8. Graeme Stephens, chief executive officer of the company, issued a statement explaining that SkyCity’s table games would continue to be offered as an inseparable and profitable part of the gambling firm’s casino business. Mr. Stephens confirmed that the application to obtain the dispensation on an ongoing basis had been withdrawn.
According to experts, the statement made by Mr Stephens suggested that the moves regarding the gambling company’s casinos in Queenstown and Hamilton had been related to safety. Now, the two casino venues had health and safety protocols that allowed them to offer table games.
Still, the decision made by the Gambling Commission highlights the fact that the regulator had given its permission on economic grounds, as the company has been pressed by a softer and evolving market. In addition, table games are more expensive to operate, as they take up much more time to casino staff members than poker machines. Previously, the casino operator had explained that the move was to make sure it will keep its operational flexibility in the turbulent environment originating from the coronavirus crisis.
Paula Snowden, chief executive officer of Problem Gambling Foundation, who was intending to oppose the required change to Condition 8, shared that the anti-gambling campaigners have been relieved by the news that the casino operator has decided to withdraw from its bid for the required change. She shared she was happy with the fact that commonsense has prevailed as the required changes were not in the public health interest of the country and its residents. Ms. Snowden had criticised the Commission, calling the regulator “absolutely incompetent” after the watchdog granted SkyCity’s Queenstown and Hamilton without consulting any other interested parties or the Commission before that.