For the past six months, SkyCity and Prime Minister John Key have been negotiating the terms of their convention centre deal. They continued to go back and forth over how many new pokies the casino would receive in return for building the $350 million venue. Now, they have made final decision – and residents are none too pleased.
In return for spending $402 million on the construction of Auckland’s new convention centre, SkyCity will be able to install 230 new pokies and 40 new table games. Additionally, the company will have its casino license extended from 2021 to 2048.
The deal has been very generous to SkyCity. This is likely because the total cost of the convention centre amount to far more than the $350 million that was originally quoted. SkyCity will now be paying $315 for construction and $87 million for land costs.
Local residents and politicians are not on board with the plan. They are concerned that the new games will encourage gambling rather than helping to reduce problem gambling rates. Auckland residents have shown support for a sinking lid policy in the city, but granting hundreds of new pokies to a major casino operator seems to be a step in the wrong direction.