New Zealand land casino operator Sky City has ambitions to compete in the online casino sector subject to the necessary legislative changes to national gambling laws, and the ability to find a suitable technology and experience partner.
The company’s intentions were voiced by CEO Graeme Stephens in his annual report to shareholders this week, but have immediately attracted opposition from problem gambling groups who say they will oppose any expansion.
Given the lack of local technology and expertise in online gambling, the most efficient route into the sector would be to partner with an offshore-based online casino operator, Stephens suggested.
“You’ve got to be pretty globally competent, if you are going into the online space, and we don’t have any of that competence today, so if we were going to do anything, I’m pretty confident it would have to be with a partner at least to start with,” said Stephens. “You couldn’t have a second rate offering online and hope to attract business.”
He pointed out that New Zealanders are already gambling at online casinos run by overseas-based operators, saying:
“It’s available here in New Zealand. A lot of offshore-based casino operators are making their online offerings available to Kiwis, including our own customers. It’s something we have been looking at for a while, as we need to. We have got a large investment in bricks and mortar. The future of the world, not just our industry, but everywhere, is going online.
“We are evaluating our options in that space, and if we can make something work, we would like to. It’s a logical segue from our land-based into the online.”
Another obstacle faced by Sky City in its online ambitions would be the current legislative situation, Stephens said, noting that a change in the law would be needed to allow an onshore-based company like Sky City to set up an online casino.
“It’s not regulated in New Zealand. Therefore there’s no opportunity to create a business in New Zealand today,” Stephens said. “Everyone that’s offering product in New Zealand is doing so from offshore.”
Stephens concluded by observing: “It’s [online gambling] going to happen regardless, so you might as well regulate it because then you get the benefits of harm minimisation and taxes,” he said.