According to SkyCity’s latest report to the NZX, the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) has informed the gambling company that there has been an application for the suspension of the casino operator’s licence for the duration of about 10 days.
The potential suspension of the casino licence will affect the operations of SkyCity’s casino locations in Auckland, Hamilton, and Queenstown. It is up to the Gambling Commission to decide whether to order a suspension of SkyCity’s licence and, if so, how long the suspension will last.
The application for SkyCity’s licence moratorium followed a complaint from a former SkyCity customer who had been gambling in the casino during the period between August 2017 and February 2021.
SkyCity Accused of Not Following Responsible Gambling Guidelines
According to SkyCity, in the application for the casino’s licence suspension, the secretary for internal affairs claimed the operator failed to follow responsible gambling requirements during its operation of Sky City Auckland, failing to detect instances of continuous play by the aforementioned customer.
SkyCity ensured that it will be fully compliant with the application and the ongoing process. However, the company said it would not be appropriate to further comment on the allegations as the commission is currently reviewing the application.
John Sneyd, general manager of regulatory services at the DIA, commented that the institution had recently completed a review of SkyCity’s practices focusing on the minimisation of gambling harm. Following the results of said review, the secretary for internal affairs believed the casino operator breached key harm-minimization requirements. The breaches also included not following SkyCity’s licence conditions as well as breach of host responsibility conditions and allowing long-play by the casino’s customers.
According to host responsibility conditions, SkyCity’s staff must be notified whenever a customer has been gambling for five hours or more, with the staff then being required to monitor the gambler.
Sneyd informed that both the DIA and SkyCity will present their submissions to the Gambling Commission, which will then decide whether there is a need for any regulatory action to be taken and what the appropriate action would be. He also highlighted that gambling harm minimisation is extremely important for the DIA and it takes strict regulatory actions whenever it is discovered that licensed operators have failed to comply with the conditions of their licences.
SkyCity’s Failure of Minimising Gambling Harm Allegations to be Further Investigated, Company’s Shares Decline Following Potential Licence Suspension News
According to Sneyd, ensuring that the gambling sector in New Zealand is run by trustworthy operators falls under the remit of the DIA. Sneyd also added that licensed operators were also required to follow guidelines for gambling harm minimisation but as the SkyCity case is the subject of an ongoing investigation, the DIA could not comment on the application.
Andree Frounde, spokesperson of the Problem Gambling Foundation, highlighted the importance of casino staff checking on customers who were playing for a long time as there were people who were exposed to severe harm. Before the recent application, the foundation had previously made submissions on SkyCity’s host responsibility requirements, reporting that any customer who gambled for three hours or more without taking a break was exposed to a higher risk of developing a gambling problem.
Following the news of SkyCity facing a potential licence suspension, the company’s shares declined 9.9% during the opening hours on Monday morning.
Olivia Cole has worked as a journalist for several years now. Over the last couple of years she has been engaged in writing about a number of industries and has developed an interest for the gambling market in the UK.