SkyCity Entertainment group has revealed plans to launch a real-money online casino operation before the year ends. This is according to local news reports citing Colin Espiner, the company’s spokesperson.
The company first revealed its plans to expand into the online gambling space last year August. SkyCity currently operated incorporated entertainment properties with casinos within New Zealand and Australia.
While it is illegal to run betting operations from within New Zealand, SkyCity is determined to exploit a gap in the nation’s law and will run its operations from outside the country. The company will also not be able to run from Australia since online casino games are prohibited under the country’s gambling law from 2017.
Espiner commenting on the issue told the local media that the company is yet to decide on a site for the online operation. He said that the company is considering Malta, which has over time been a popular online gaming hub. The New Zealand casino operator is also considering opportunities to build a partnership with a reputable online gambling operator.
The company’s online business will be limited to casino games, as they do not plan to explore sports betting at the moment.
Under New Zealand’s current gaming laws, SkyCity will not be able to advertise actively its casino site across local media. Several offshore gambling companies have found a way to evade rules and promote their operations to kiwis but SkyCity has stated that it is not going to exploit ant existing loopholes. Its plan is to rely on SEO to draw gamblers.
Source of Revenue for the Government
SkyCity doesn’t expect to generate any significant profit from its online casino during the first year of operation as result of heavy setup costs. However, the firm strongly believes that the operation will take off rapidly.
Mr. Espiner told the local media platforms that the gaming operator could pledge an amount of up to NZ$40M in annual taxes to the government. The online casino will not be in New Zealand’s authority as it will be based outside the state, but the groups said that it is ready to donate funds to its government. Espiner went on to state that even if the government cannot refuses to take its contributions, the company would direct the money to charitable courses.
The casino operator stated that it would make sure to sternly observe its online gaming operations and that the services are provided to clients in a socially responsible way. The company’s spokesperson went on to explain that problem gamblers will be spotted on time and will be imposed on a time and spending limit.
Despite the casino operator’s pledges to contribute towards the tax and social responsibility, the country’s Minister for Internal Affairs Tracey Martin said that she was disappointed that company still wants to go ahead with the plan and that the move showed an inadequacy in the nation’s current regulatory framework.
The minister mentioned last year that she would present a paper with an objective of reorganizing the local online betting market. SkyCity is hopeful that the legislation would allow for the provision of online casino services in a managed environment rather than prohibiting the practice altogether. Mister Martin is expected to introduce the paper to the Cabinet this April. However, any changes in the country’s gambling law would take two years to be implemented.
The news about the expected move by SkyCity was not well received by Problem Gambling Foundation. The Foundation has been lobbying for more restrictive laws regarding the provision of gambling services for many years.