Posted on: March 23, 2022, 07:03h.
Last updated on: March 23, 2022, 02:11h.
SkyCity Entertainment Group is going through a bit of a rough patch. Topping off the casino operator’s issues is an investigation by the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs that found disturbing and “deficient” responsible gambling practices.
SkyCity operations slowed down over the past few months because of an increase in COVID-19 cases in New Zealand. The drop in revenue partially contributed to the casino operator falling out of the ASX 200 Index this week.
The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) in New Zealand recently reviewed SkyCity’s operations, a process that has become common practice in Oceania recently. The DIA’s audit began in 2019 but didn’t wrap up until last year. It found lax responsible gambling policies and several egregious failures, according to NewsHub.
Market capitalizations frequently change, so its exit from the Index isn’t a show-stopper. However, the revelation that it allowed a gambler to play poker machines for excessively long periods could be. The individual had a ban in place at the time, making this just one of several infractions committed by the operator.
Sky Falls on SkyCity
The DIA found that SkyCity Auckland, the company’s flagship property, was negligent in its oversight. Highlighting the problems was the case of one particular individual who should have never been inside the casino.
The gambler was on an exclusion list, but this didn’t stop him from sitting in front of poker machines for extended periods. On one occasion, he racked up 14-and-a-half hours playing. On another, he spent 28 hours gambling before anyone questioned him.
These were just two examples. The DIA audit determined that some employees at the casino had a “dismissive attitude” toward responsible gambling and that the property routinely failed to carry out risk assessments. It also discovered that over half of those individuals who signed up for gaming time limits were able to gamble well beyond the established thresholds.
In addition, there exists a “high likelihood” that minors are able to enter the casino and gamble. This isn’t going to sit well with legislators and the current anti-gambling sentiment.
Too Little, Too Late
The unwanted exposure isn’t going to benefit SkyCity or casino markets anywhere. New Zealand Minister of Internal Affairs Jan Tinetti, in a conversation with NewsHub, explained that the highlighted discrepancies could lead to a full investigation into the country’s casinos.
That would be subsequent to a review already underway. Officials are exploring how to crack down on poker machines found at area bars and other facilities. As a result, it’s likely that SkyCity’s failings will result in a major shift in how, when, and where gambling machines operate in New Zealand.
For its part, SkyCity asserts that it has already made changes to correct the failings. A company spokesperson reportedly stated that the audit resulted in updated policies and procedures related to responsible gambling.
The spokesperson explained that an increase in the use of facial recognition and improved training across the company help mitigate any issues. However, it may be too late.
This isn’t the first audit SkyCity failed. Tinetti is now exploring why the DIA has not taken any serious action against the company. That likely means SkyCity can start preparing its wallet now to cover fines that may arrive in the near future.