Sky City Partners With HP In Three NZ Cities

Even in the land-based gambling market, there is a huge demand for sophisticated technological software for players. Local casino operator Sky City has decided to meet this demand by teaming up with HP to offer players some great new computer systems to take advantage of while they play, and the new services are expected to change the country’s gambling market.

One of the biggest changes that Sky City Auckland, Queenstown and Hamilton will experience is the introduction of wireless internet throughout the casino. Even in their hotel rooms, players will have access to wireless internet capability so they can catch up on emails and even play some online poker when they’ve tired of the gaming floor.

VIP members are also given the added option of being able to set betting limits. Players with loyalty cards can now take part in ‘voluntary pre-commitment’ programs, much like the systems that the Australian government is considering implementing. When players approach their limits, warning messages appear on the screen to let them know. Allowing players to limit how much they spend before they play is believed to help curb problem gambling numbers across the country.

Number of Children Abandoned At Casinos Triples

Earlier this year, a couple were arrested after their five children were found locked in a van while they gambled at a local SkyCity Casino. The case was shocking, as the general public looked on in awe, as a couple neglected their children while they fed their addiction. However, the crime is more common than you would think, as the rate of child abandonment at casinos has tripled over the course of the past few years.

Statistics show that 54 children were left in cars while their parents gambled in 2011. In 2010, the number was 46 and in 2009, the number was just 19. This is a shocking discovery for the general public, as it proves that more parents are putting their gambling habits before their children.

These statistics indicate two things. Firstly, there has been an increase in the number of problem gambling addicts across the country. Secondly, those that are addicted are becoming more desperate to feed their addiction. As such, more children across New Zealand are forced to suffer.

The findings come at an ideal time, as the local government attempts to pass the Harm Reduction Bill. This bill is aimed at reducing the number of poker machines across New Zealand in an attempt to curb problem gambling rates.

SkyCity Fined For Scandal

Earlier this year, SkyCity was involved in a scandal that saw its managing Director Sid Vaikunta let go. Months later, the casino operator is still feeling the effects of the scandal, as it has recently been fined over $100 000 for failing to inform the local gaming authority.

At the beginning of the year, Sid Vaikunta was accused of sexually harassing his employees. He was suspended and threatened with the loss of his job. In February, he was fired. In the months leading up to the suspension and sacking, the casino operator failed to inform the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority.

According to the authority, this was a breach of the Casino Control Act. Whenever a casino executive is accused of wrong doing the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority must be notified so that it can conduct an investigation. Sky City’s actions interfered with the process.

The casino operator has apologized for the transgression, stating that it was unaware it had acted unlawfully. Moving forward, SkyCity will maintain transparency and an open relationship with the local gaming authority.

Construction on Hamilton Casino-Hotel Begins

$35 million will be spent on the construction of a new luxury hotel above SkyCity Hamilton. For months, developers have been working hard to get their plans approved and now they finally have the go-ahead. Now, the construction date has been set, as work on the new hotel will begin at the end of the 2012.

The hotel is planned to be a 4-star venue, catering to high-roller players at SkyCity Hamilton Casino. The property will house 8 duplex suites, 16 luxury suites and over 100 regular hotel rooms. Amenities will include a swimming pool, gym and sauna. As such, it will be inclusive accommodation for anyone who is visiting New Zealand on a gambling trip.

This seems to be part of Sky City’s plans to attract more high roller gamblers. Over the course of the past few years, the company has placed a great emphasis on VIP gaming, catering to individuals that spend millions of dollars. With luxury rooms and high-class amenities, the new hotel at SkyCity Hamilton most certainly aims to bring in more business from high roller gamblers with lots of money to spend.

Pokies Parents Plead Guilty

In February, five children were found trapped in a van in a Sky City parking lot. It was discovered that their parents had abandoned them in the vehicle while they gambled. Now, the parents have pleaded guilty to the crime and now face having their children taken way and possibly going to jail.

This week, the couple appeared before court, where they pleaded guilty to child neglect. All of the children in the van were under the age of 14, the legal age at which children can be left alone without supervision. It was also a health hazard as locking children in a car is very dangerous.

The story made headlines back in February, as it highlighted the issue of problem gambling in New Zealand. It brought to light several other cases of child neglect that have taken place as a result of gambling addiction, causing politicians to think about new ways to curb problem gambling rates in the city. John Key, however, stated that child abandonment can take place anywhere; a supermarket parking lot, for example.

The couple have been released on bail, and they will appear in court again in September for sentencing.

SkyCity Negotiations Still Ongoing

Sky City and the City of Auckland are still working out the details of their deal, which would see the casino operator build the city’s new convention centre in return for a number of new poker machines. A year after the deal was announced, the two parties are still working out the kinks, but both sides say that there is no reason to worry.

Onlookers have expressed concerns that a year passing in the negotiations process could mean negative things for the deal. Normally, it takes a few months to finalize the details of any gambling or development-related plans, but this is taking much longer than anyone had anticipated.

However, Economic Minister Steven Joyce has assured the public that there is nothing to worry about. He states that deals of this vastness take longer than most to work out:

“We’re asking a company to invest around $350 million, so it’s a pretty serious discussion”, Joyce says.

There is also some speculation that the new Harm Reduction Bill has created some obstacles. With the possibility that city councils can reduce the number of pokies in a city, it may compromise the key aspect of the deal: trading the construction of the casino for 500 new poker machines.

New Amendment Could Jeopardize Sky City Deal

Last month, Sky City Casinos agreed to spend $350 million building a conference centre in Auckland in return for 350 – 500 new poker machines. However, a new bill has been introduced which could give the public more power decide to reduce the number of pokies in the community – and it could have dire consequences for Sky City.

The new bill will receive its first reading today. It would allow local authorities to use community feedback to determine the impact of poker machines in various areas of the country. From there, they can decide if they need to reduce the number of pokies in specific neighbourhoods.

According to Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell, the passing of the new bill could have a negative effect on the Sky City Deal. Even though city councillors have granted the operator the right to add up to 500 new pokies to Sky City Auckland, the public may now be able intervene. It could mean that casino would not be able to add the new poker machines after all.

However, this is just the first reading, so nothing is set in stone. If the bill does not pass, the Sky City deal is likely to carry on as planned

Gambling Addicted Parents Going to Court

Earlier this year, a van full of children was discovered in the parking lot of a Sky City Casino. The parents had locked the children inside while they went into the gambling venue to play pokies; fortunately, the children were found before any injuries occurred. For some time, it was thought that the parents would only get off with a warning, but it has just been announced that they will see some more serious repercussions.

The parents are likely to be charged with child endangerment and domestic violence. Both of these crimes carry heavy penalties, but some onlookers believe that more needs to be done.

Neglecting children in exchange for taking part in gambling activities occurs more often that we would like to imagine. According to the Department of Internal Affairs, 46 other children had been left alone while their parents went off to gamble.

While the parents are the ones who are punished, it is believed that casino operators should also take on some of the responsibility. Anti-gambling groups believe that casinos like Star City should be expected to encourage responsible gambling among their patrons, preventing such child neglect crimes from occurring.

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.