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New Zealand – ‘Continuous play’ claim could lead to 70 day closure for Sky City’s casinos

By - 4 September 2023

New Zealand casino group SkyCity Entertainment has been informed by the Department of Internal Affairs that the Secretary of the Department is making an application to the Gambling Commission to temporarily suspend SkyCity Casino Management Limited’s casino operator’s licence for a period ‘in the range of 70 days.’

SkyCity Casino Management, a subsidiary of SkyCity, is the holder of the casino operator’s licence for the SkyCity Auckland, SkyCity Hamilton and SkyCity Queenstown casinos in New Zealand. The Commission will now consider whether to make an order to suspend SCML’s casino operator’s licence and, if so, the duration of any such suspension. A decision may not be forthcoming for a number of months. 

The application has been made following a complaint made in February 2022 to the Department by a former customer who gambled at the SkyCity Auckland casino over the period from August 2077 to February 2027. The Secretary states in the application that SCML did not comply with requirements in its SkyCity Auckland Host Responsibility Programme relating to detection of incidences of continuous play by the customer. 

The operator said: “SkyCity will fully cooperate with the Secretary in relation to the application and process. Given that the application is before the Commission it would be inappropriate for SkyCity to comment further on the application and allegations at this stage.” 

The Secretary may apply to the Commission for an order to suspend a casino licence if the Secretary is satisfied that the licence holder is breaching or has breached the Act or a condition of the casino licence or minimum operating standards. The Commission must then decide whether or not to grant the order sought by the Secretary after following the procedure set out in section 745 of the Act, including considering written submissions and (if applicable) convening a hearing – a process which could take some months to conclude. Should the Commission determine to grant an order to suspend SCML’s casino operator’s licence, this would not impact SkyCity’s non-gaming operations, including its hotels and restaurants. 

The operator said: “SkyCity is committed to maintaining the highest standards of host responsibility best practice, with priority given to minimising the impacts associated with problem gambling as an area of primary focus. SkyCity has made, and continues to make, significant investment and enhancements in its host responsibility controls, technology and resources.”

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