In New Zealand and casino operator SkyCity Entertainment Group Limited is reportedly being criticized after its SkyCity Auckland venue was found to be below par with regards to a slate of state-mandated gambling harm protection measures.
According to a Monday report from Newshub, the disapproval comes as the results of a Department of Internal Affairs investigation from 2019 were published showing the giant Auckland facility to be deficient in nine out of ten safe gambling compliance areas. The source detailed that this probe was finalized last year and asserted that there was a ‘high likelihood’ some underage individuals had accessed the venue’s casino.
The examination into SkyCity Auckland moreover reportedly asserted that some of the large property’s staff were ‘dismissive’ of issues related to problem gambling and had ‘failed’ to correctly identify excluded punters. The official exercise also purportedly determined that there had been ‘insufficient staff’ at the SkyCity Entertainment Group Limited venue tasked with enforcing the required player protection measures.
SkyCity Auckland opened in February of 1996 complete with an over 70,000 sq ft casino offering a selection of approximately 1,600 slots as well as 100 gambling tables. Newshub reported that the nation’s largest gambling-friendly enterprise was furthermore adjudged to have done nothing while more than half of those who earlier enrolled in a voluntary time and stake monitoring scheme ‘breached their limits.’
SkyCity Entertainment Group Limited, which is additionally responsible for New Zealand’s SkyCity Hamilton and SkyCity Queenstown properties in addition to the SkyCity Adelaide venue in Australia, was reportedly also found to have a ‘deficient’ system for identifying excluded or banned customers. This was purportedly all topped off by a revelation that the operator had not properly analyzed the ethnicity of its clientele despite those from Maori and Pacific Islander backgrounds known to be at a higher risk of developing a gambling problem.
The Department of Internal Affairs reportedly concluded that SkyCity Auckland’s senior management has ‘taken no action’ when made aware of these breaches and had ‘ignored’ its recommendations to improve these ‘significant shortcomings.’ All of this could now purportedly put the venue’s license at risk with the country’s Internal Affairs Minister, Jan Tinetti, having subsequently declared that ‘absolutely I think there should be consequences.’
Reportedly read a statement from Tinetti…
“It is unacceptable. That is, as I say, very, very distressing and I would expect us to be doing better than that. We are making sure our legislation and our regulations are fit for purpose.”
For her part and Andree Froude from the Problem Gambling Foundation reportedly described the failings as ‘appalling’ before asserting that they represented ‘clear breaches of host responsibility’. The advocate moreover highlighted the case of one excluded punter who had managed to gain access to the casino within SkyCity Auckland on two separate occasions so as to enjoy slot sessions that lasted for 14.5 and 28 hours respectively.
Froude reportedly told Newshub…
“For someone to be able to sit at a slot machine for 28 hours just should not be able to happen. Where is the accountability? You know, if this was alcohol, for example, and a venue served an underage patron, there would be consequences.”