SkyCity Bids Farewell to Gaming Tables | Pokies to Stay

Piers Daubeney

Posted On:   JUN - 02 - 2020

Reading Time: 3 minutes

New Zealand’s premier gambling company, SkyCity has made the decision to close its gaming tables. The sudden decision was revealed by local media whereby SkyCity plans to only operate poker machines going forward.

The move has been welcomed by anti-gambling campaigners who have deemed it as a victory for common sense. Interim permission had been provided to SkyCity by the local gambling commission to operate only pokies at its casinos in Queenstown and Hamilton until the end of Alert Level One caused by COVID-19.

Given the devastating effect that the pandemic would have on business operations, SkyCity had requested that pokies be allowed to operate at its casinos. The operator had also filed an application urging the relaxing of the rule under which it is required to operate no less than one table game at the casinos. This is referred to as Condition 8 and is applicable to their casino in Auckland.

The Problem Gambling Foundation had found the move aimed at the operation of pokies to be shocking. As per the foundation, the continued operation of poker machines would have a devastating effect as they are considered as the most addictive forms of gambling.

SkyCity Plans Thwarted by Local Media

As soon as, the local media got wind of SkyCity’s applications to the Gambling Commission they reported it after which the gambling giant did a quick u turn. SkyCity immediately revealed how it had changed its plans and was going to withdraw its applications.

Graeme Stephens, CEO of SkyCity issued a statement saying that table games would still be offered. Experts believed that the table games were being provided on the basis of health and safety protocols. Under these protocols the casino games would be made available in both Queenstown and Hamilton casinos.

The decision made by the government to allow for table games is based on economic grounds. COVID-19 has tested the resilience of the most robust business models in New Zealand. Table games themselves are extremely expensive to operate as they need to be constantly manned by a member of staff.  The move as per the casino was necessary to keep the business afloat in such uncertain times.

Problem Gambling Foundation CEO, Paula Snowden who was all set to oppose the amendments requested to condition 8 is now relieved by the latest decision. As per Snowden, common sense has prevailed, and the health and safety of NZ residents is given utmost priority.

In a time where social distancing is mandatory there is no room to allow the operation of table games. Ms Snowden had even gone as far as to label the gambling commission as ‘absolutely incompetent’ after the regulator had granted SkyCity’s Queenstown and Hamilton permission to operate table games.

Despite New Zealand coping significantly well with respect to the pandemic, there have been some opportunistic online casinos that are using the virus to push their casinos. Such deplorable acts have been condemned all around and we are urge you not to visit such rogue casinos.