SkyCity Auckland Criticized For Gambling Harm Failures

Robert Longthorpe - Senior Writer
Robert Longthorpe
23 December 2022 in News

Practicing responsible gambling when playing at the top online casinos in New Zealand is such an important thing to adhere to. However, a Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) audit finds that SkyCity Auckland, a property belonging to SkyCity Entertainment Group Limited, does little to protect its customers from gambling harm. The DIA began its audit in 2019 but completed it only last year.

The DIA report finds SkyCity Auckland lacking in nine out of ten compliance areas related to safe gambling and confirms that the likelihood of underage individuals gaining access to its gambling floors is high.

SkyCity Auckland Staff Fails to Protect Customers

SkyCity Entertainment Group Limited, which also operates SkyCity Queenstown and SkyCity Hamilton in New Zealand and SkyCity Adelaide in Australia, is facing flak for implementing a weak system that fails to identify banned and self-excluded customers. Moreover, the operator takes no measures to determine player ethnicity and protect them accordingly. It has failed to consider existing reports showing that Pacific Islanders and the Maori are highly vulnerable to gambling harm.

The DIA investigation also reveals that the employees of SkyCity Auckland refuse to take problem gambling issues seriously and fail to identify bettors who had previously requested self-exclusion. The departmental probe shows that SkyCity Entertainment Group Limited does not even have an adequate number of employees at its Auckland venue to enforce player protection measures effectively.

The DIA confirms that SkyCity Auckland employees took no action when over half of its customers who had previously opted for a voluntary stake and time monitoring scheme violated the rules. Moreover, SkyCity Auckland hardly conducts risk assessments and does nothing to prevent individuals who had requested gaming time limits from playing beyond their established thresholds.

SkyCity Auckland Ignores Recommendations

The DIA reports that the senior management of SkyCity Auckland failed to take action when these shortcomings were brought to its notice. The operator also stands guilty of ignoring DIA recommendations. The venue may lose its gaming license because of its failure to protect its customers from gambling harm.

Jan Tinetti, the Internal Affairs Minister of New Zealand, has declared that he thinks the operator should face the consequences. Tinetti has issued a statement saying that the operator’s lack of apathy is unacceptable and distressing. He says that he expects the gambling regulations and legislation of New Zealand to protect its residents from gambling-related harm.

Problem Gambling Foundation Criticizes SkyCity Auckland

Andree Froude of the Problem Gambling Foundation describes the failure of SkyCity Auckland to protect its customers as “appalling” and asserts that these failures are a clear breach of host responsibility. She highlights the case of a bettor who had previously opted for self-exclusion. Owing to the inadequacy of the player protection measures at SkyCity Auckland, the bettor entered the casino twice and played slots during two gambling sessions of 28 and 14.5 hours each.

Froude says that no player should be permitted to play slots continuously for 28 hours. Criticizing SkyCity Auckland for failing to protect its customers from gambling harm, she said the operator must face the consequences of its actions just as a venue serving alcohol continuously to an underage customer has to face consequences.

SkyCity Auckland Responds

SkyCity Auckland has responded to the investigation report. The operator claims to have already taken steps to improve the situation and has updated its responsible gambling procedures and policies. The operator now uses facial recognition and conducts training sessions for its staff members.

Despite SkyCity's attempts to launch adequate measures to protect its customers, its future is bleak. SkyCity has also failed previous DIA audits, and Tinetti wants to know why the DIA hasn't taken action against the operator. SkyCity may have to pay some heavy fines shortly.

Launched in February 1996, SkyCity Auckland has a casino gaming space sprawling over 70,000 square feet. The biggest gambling-friendly enterprise in New Zealand, the land-based casino offers 1600+ slots and 100+ gambling tables.

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