Convention Centre Deal Will Not Relax Advertising Laws

After reports last week claimed that the public was being kept out of the negotiations between city councilors and Sky City, a new report shows some progress. The public has been given a little more insight into the discussions between Sky City and politicians, as it has been revealed that the operators has asked for relaxed gambling advertising laws, as well.

The deal originally stated that, in return for the construction of the new conference centre in Auckland, gambling laws would be relaxed. This means that the local Sky City will be able to install more poker machines and table games, despite the city’s cap on gambling.

Now, Sky City is asking for a bit more. Recent reports that that Sky City has asked for the local government to relax laws concerning gambling advertising for the casino operator as well – but politicians will not agree.

According to Economic Minister Steven Joyce, there is “no chance” that councilors will agree to relaxing current gambling advertising laws. Sky City is already getting a very generous deal in return for building the new conference centre, and we believe that the operator should not push its luck by asking for more perks.

Sky City Fails to Keep Problem Gamblers Out

In Australia and New Zealand, all casinos and gambling venues must offer exclusion programs. Whether banned by the casino operator or by themselves, operators must agree to keep problem gamblers off their premises. However, Sky City has had problems keeping its end of the bargain, allowing over 250 excluded gamblers play casino games.

Over the course of 2011, 265 banned gamblers have been allowed to play at Sky City Casinos across New Zealand. 201 had been banned by the casino operator while 64 had taken part in a self-exclusion program. Regardless of how the bans had been enacted, Sky City sill had a responsibility to keep the gamblers out, but ultimately failed to do so.

With this news reaching the public, critics of the Sky City conference centre deal have more reason to complain. They believe that the city should not agree to relax gambling laws if the casino operator cannot deal with problem gamblers. It will be an unhealthy move for the city at large, and critics believe that Sky City should correct its problem gambling tactics before it is allowed more table games and pokies.

Prime Minister Prefers Casinos Over Pubs

Prime Minister John Key has stated that casinos are a safer alternative to pubs which host poker machines. This seems to be his case for justifying the recent agreement he’s made with Sky City, offering the casino group more pokies in return for the construction of Auckland’s new convention and conference centre.

The deal will give Sky City the construction contract for the new convention centre, which is estimated at costing around $350 million. In return for this favour, the Prime Minister has allowed Sky City to install new poker machines in its local casinos. Key has yet to announce how many new poker machines will be permitted, but residents are already upset over the plan.

Across New Zealand, several groups have worked hard to impose a sinking lid policy on poker machines, decreasing the number of pokies across the country. Key’s new deal offsets and contradicts the policy, upsetting several politicians and responsible gambling groups.

However, John Key defends his actions by stating that it is more beneficial to install new pokies in casinos rather than pubs or gaming clubs, offering a safer environment for players. He states that the overall number of pokies will decrease while casinos in particular are able to install new machines – but very few residents are convinced.

Greens Do Not Support Sky City Conference Centre

Earlier this week, it was revealed that Sky City has made a remarkable financial performance of the course of 2011. The company saw profits jumped by 17%, so the Green Party wonders why the company needs to expand its gambling operations.

Over the course of the past year, Sky City has been negotiating with local councillors for the contract to build a new conference centre in Auckland. The casino operator would cover the entire cost of construction – and all it asks for in return is for the government to bend some gambling laws for it.

Sky City wants to be able to exceed the local cap for pokies and gaming tables, and hopes that its deal with the local government will allow it to do so. While it seems like an airtight deal, the Greens have poked some holes in it.

After seeing Sky City’s financial results for the year, the Green Party has publically asked “Why?”. The political party does not see any reason for the government to allow the casino operator to install more poker machines, especially since Sky City is already thriving.

They wonder if the casino really needs that much more revenue. If so, The Greens propose expanding the casino in other ways that do not exceed the pokies cap.