New Zealand opens casinos without restrictions

by Charlotte Lee Last Updated
SkyCity bans junkets immediately

New Zealand moved to a level one coronavirus alert this week and Auckland headquartered gaming and entertainment firm SkyCity Entertainment issued a new business update.

Casino Beats reports that at the new alert level, there are no restrictions on mass gatherings and physical distancing requirements have been lifted, but tighter border controls are to remain firmly in place.

Accordingly, since Tuesday, SkyCity’s properties in New Zealand are allowed to recommence events and promotions, with electronic gaming machines and gaming tables to operate as usual, without physical distancing requirements.

This will see the previously created gaming zone implemented during alert level two removed.

Members of the public will also be able to return to the SkyCity casinos, with restrictions mandated during the previous level meaning that only premier rewards members could gain access to the properties.

The company asserts that it will continue to adhere to the Ministry of Health’s guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus, as well as SkyCity’s own health, safety and hygiene standards to ensure the protection and customers and employees.

Regarding travel in and out of the country, international borders are expected to remain closed for the foreseeable future at alert level one.

However, SkyCity comments that “the reopening of the Trans-Tasman border between Australia and New Zealand appears increasingly likely over the next few months, which would be positive for SkyCity and it’s tourism-related businesses.”

Furthermore, based on the South Australian government’s current three-stage approach to easing its own COVID-19 restrictions, the operator continues to stipulate an expectation that it will be able to reopen its Adelaide Casino property in either late June or early July.

Last week, SkyCity said that facilities within New Zealand are performing ahead of international expectations, after entertainment and accommodation facilities in Auckland, Hamilton and Queenstown reopened on May 14, 2020.

Gaming businesses in Auckland Hamilton are said to have delivered “very pleasing” performances, particularly in electronic gaming machines, while table game revenues have been steadily improving after a slow start, reflecting a return to around 50 per cent of normal business.

SkyCity’s online casino “continues to trade strongly” having recorded 21,000 customer registrations as of May 31, 2020 and was profitable in April and May.

SkyCity announces more job cuts amid the coronavirus pandemic

SkyCity has announced that it has let go 700 more staff members amid the coronavirus pandemic.

New Zealand is one of the countries that identified and contained COVID-19 most quickly and effectively.

Its response to the pandemic was swift and thorough, but hasn’t been enough to spare more job losses at the casino, which has venues in Auckland, Christchurch and Queenstown.

Casino Aus reported that New Zealand did so well at the restrictive level 3 recently that officials this week moved to Level 2.

This means New Zealanders can resume most of their regular activities.

With safety measures in place, businesses are allowed to open, schools resume classes and travel between regions can begin again.

As SkyCity casinos planned its reopenings with limited staff and much unknown in the timeline going forward, the company had to stand down a large number of its employees.

The casino operator blames the weaker economy, lower personal disposable income, reformed entertainment habits and mass gathering restrictions.

It says it is reopening as a “smaller, domestically-focused business.”

SkyCity Entertainment Group chief executive Graeme Stephens announced a further reduction in the company’s workforce with 700 more people let go.

“For a company that is centered around its people this is incredibly difficult for all involved,” he said.

“At SkyCity, we are a family, and it is incredibly tough to say goodbye to valued team members, however, we need to ensure our business is best prepared to operate in the new environment.”

The move is expected to save the company about $50 million.

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