SkyCity forced to extend Auckland casino closure

by William Brown Last Updated
SkyCity casino and hotel

SkyCity has extended the shutdown of its Auckland casino after the New Zealand government re-introduced restrictions after an outbreak of COVID-19.

Casino Beats reports the implementing of level two and three restrictions last week after a cluster of cases came as the country recorded its first new cases of coronavirus in 102 days.

Following a government announcement, the COVID-19 alert will remain at level three in Auckland and two for the rest of New Zealand until 11.59pm on August 26, 2020.

With some social distancing restrictions outside of Auckland, SkyCity’s Hamilton and Queenstown properties remain open at alert level two with physical distancing and hygiene requirements in place.

SkyCity chief executive Graeme Stephens said on the initial closure last week: “SkyCity is fully complying with this latest update from the New Zealand government.

“SkyCity is well prepared to respond quickly to these changes and is in a strong financial position to withstand the financial impacts of these temporary restrictions.”

Last month, SkyCity rolled out plans for a “key pillar” of its $330 million Adelaide transformation, with ‘The District’ project to feature Australia’s first fully functional microbrewery within a casino.

SkyCity Adelaide plans for expansion include an onsite microbrewery

Inkedin reported in July that the expansion will feature Australia’s first fully functioning microbrewery operating inside a casino.

The District at SkyCity was revealed after an historic partnership with Pirate Life.

It plans to put together all attractions at level one, including a poker zone, sports bar, Pirate Life microbrewery, live entertainment and bistro.

Pirate Life co-found Michael Cameron explained the concept.

“When we arrived in Adelaide, a big part of our ambition was to create a brewery that resonated with South Australians,” Mr Cameron said.

“After establishing Pirate Life in Hindmarsh, followed by the move and expansion in Port Adelaide, the ability to partner with The District at SkyCity as part of their transformation is another fantastic step on the journey.

“We look forward to sharing the Pirate Life experience with more South Australians, as well as tourists visiting the state.”

Other important works to be undertaken in the heritage building include a repainting of the Marble Hall for the first time since the Adelaide Casino was opened in 1985, as well as renovation and extension of the Baccarat Pavilion.

It is estimated the project will create about 1000 jobs during construction and 700 ongoing positions upon completion, with recruitment for some positions having already been conducted.

General manager of SkyCity Adelaide said: “The District at SkyCity, featuring the dynamic Pirate Life team, is the final piece of the puzzle at SkyCity Adelaide; creating a vibrant live entertainment space on level one in the current heritage building.

“During the recent closure of the Adelaide Casino, construction projects were able to continue on the expansion and hotel site, as well as without our beautiful heritage building, where The District at SkyCity will come to life on level one later this year.”

SkyCity warned by NZ government over advertising breach

New Zealand casino operator SkyCity Entertainment Group has been warned by the government that its Malta-licensed online casino was flouting local advertising laws, Calvin Ayre reported in July.

On Monday, the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs issued a formal warning to SkyCity regarding its Malta-licensed SkyCityCasino.com site.

The DIA found that an email SkyCity sent its loyalty program members in March had breached rules against promoting internationally licensed online gambling sites.

SkyCity’s Malta-based subsidiary launched its Gaming Innovation Group-powered online casino in August 2019, offering a mix of RNG and live dealer casino games.

Customers were required to be physically located in New Zealand, despite the country having yet to authorise online casino gambling.

The offending email informed SkyCity customers that, while its land-based gaming operations had been halted by COVID-19, its online casino was “operating as usual”.

A customer viewed this pitch as contravening Kiwi rules regarding the promotion of prohibited gambling products and filed a complaint with the DIA.

The DIA launched a month-long investigation, eventually concluding that SkyCity hadn’t ‘deliberately’ violated the Gambling Act 2003.

DIA director Chris Thornborough reportedly told the complainant that education was the DIA’s preferred first step regarding such complaints but the government would “take any further breaches seriously.”

A SkyCity spokesperson told local media that the March email was intended to simply “advise customers of the overall impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on SkyCity’s operations.”

SkyCity maintains that it didn’t break the rules but the company “respects the view of the department however and will take into account the feedback received.”

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