SkyCity New Zealand Launches Digital Casino Based in Malta

The SkyCity Entertainment Group has launched a digital casino based in Malta. The online gaming site is a joint venture with Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) under the URL Tapping into the digital gaming market has been in the making for SkyCity New Zealand since May, with the rollout taking place on Friday 9. The web-based gambling environment in Kiwi is highly regulated, which is why they opted for the offshore licensing.

This expansion is part of SkyCity’s diversification of their portfolio after they realized the missed opportunity. The Auckland SkyCity casino remains the marque gaming establishment for the group, raking in most of the revenue while Adelaide casino continues to struggle. This is juxtaposed by the reports by the Department of Internal Affairs, citing that offshore online gambling has risen by 84% since 2015.

SkyCity New Zealand Launches Digital Casino Based in Malta

Partnership Deal Between SkyCity New Zealand & GiG

Maltese-based casino management service company, Gaming Innovation Group is responsible for the management of the online platform. This is regarding the front-end of the website and the gaming content that players can find at the casino lobby. While this move may not be much of a surprise to New Zealanders, the gaming group has exercised caution about their expectations of the online platform. The estimated returns from the project are only expected to take time before they reach their full potential

DIA Looking to Introduce Online Gambling

The Department of Internal Affairs is actively looking into introducing a framework to legalize online gambling and awarding licenses to both local and overseas casino operators. Currently, the only providers of online gambling in New Zealand are state-owned platforms in LottoNZ and TAB. The discussions are centred around the licensing requirements along with setting up appropriate taxes, and social responsibility obligations. The discussions are reported to come to a close in September. In the meantime, keep your eyes glued to for the latest gambling news in New Zealand.

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Yet Another SkyCity Workers Strike

SkyCity workers embarked on yet another strike last weekend. This is the second strike by almost 900 employees at the casino in as many weeks. It is also considered the largest migrant strike in New Zealand history as the workers refused to work overnight over a pay rate debacle. According to Gerard Hehir, who’s the Unite Union’s national secretary, the workers are seeking better pay rates for weekends and night work, but the negotiations with the casino group have made no progress. Read on for more.

SkyCity Workers Strike for Better Pay Rates Again

SkyCity Workers Strike for Better Weekends & Night Pay Rates

From 10 pm on Saturday night until 8 am Monday morning, around 900 SkyCity workers, who also form part of the Unite Union, went tools down as part of their “Back to the Weekend” campaign. According to the union, the protest is deliberately aimed at disrupting weekend and nightshifts (which are also the resorts’ peak times) which the union says unfairly disrupt the lives of its members.

Hehir told local media that: “the basic problem is that SkyCity needs most of its workers at weekends and nights and makes most of its income during that time, but prefers to use the ‘stick’ rather than the ‘carrot’ to get staff at these times”.

No-one disputes that there have to be shifts at weekends and nights. The issue is SkyCity should be encouraging staff who can choose to work those shifts – recognizing that not all hours are equal,” Herir added.

SkyCity Goes AWOL

Joe Carolan, who’s the union spokesperson stated that SkyCity would not be addressing the protests. And, according to reliable sources, the casino group which has around 2 000 employees, has not offered to discuss any pay rate increases but rostering. “The company [suggested] union workers wouldn’t have to work weekends. But we don’t want to do that – we want rights for everybody,” expressed Herir, who was disappointed by the casino’s approach.

“They simply had no offer at all for increasing rates at weekends and nights. We signalled clearly that this was the issue we needed to negotiate on and have repeatedly offered since then to discuss different options – with no movement at all from SkyCity.

The only offer was to discuss rosters – but we have been doing that for two years already, and it simply cannot solve the problem on its own. Higher rates for weekends and nights work. They work in for many large 24/7 workplaces in New Zealand and they work for SkyCity itself in their Australian casino,” added Herir.

Since the previous strike, 50 staff have reportedly signed up to the union and 94% of the union members have agreed to reject SkyCity’s latest offer.

In 2018, SkyCity reported a profit of $144 million (NZ$224 million).

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Christchurch Casino Poker Player Wins NZD$107,000

New Zealand poker player, Jon Pye hits the jackpot with an NZD$107,000 win at Christchurch Casino’s Main Event. The NZ casino hosted a poker championship and Pye defeated Scott Hamilton-Hill who landed a cool NZD$66,000 as the runner-up. The poker tournament took 29 hours of play to complete, broken down into three days.

Christchurch Casino Poker Tournament

The poker series was contested by 238 Kiwi poker players. Each player put up a betting stake of NZD$1950 to gain entry into the marquee tournament that produced a prize pool total of NZD $428,400. Coincidentally, this is not Pye’s first win for 2019. Pye, who owns a painting business in Christchurch, made NZD$11,600 in the South Island champs for a fourth-place finish. In other tournaments earlier in the year, he cashed in NZD$3000 for 8th place in the Canterbury champs, NZD$4,250 for fourth in the Pot Limit Omaha rebuy event and NZD$1,200 for being 10th in the Bounty event. The highest win for the year came in the Auckland WPT Main Event where he landed fifth-place finish to claim NZD$39,960.

Christchurch Casino Poker Player Wins NZD$107,000

Pye Credits Seeing Through the Bluff for Win

When asked about his poker success, Pye credits his attention to detail. He explains that he is able to read people’s bluff and take advantage of their ‘mannerisms’. Pay attention to “what they do, how they act, how they look at their cards”. Pye originally started playing poker in 2003 but he only made his first major event final in 2008 at the Christchurch Main Event.

The tournament win was also made special by the defeat to local poker pro Scott Hamilton-Hill. Hamilton-Hill is a former World Series of Poker winner in 2018 where he walked away with NZD$440,710. Earlier in the week, he only managed a 7th place finish in the South Island Champs to claim NZD$5,100.

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SkyCity Casino Workers in Auckland Set to Strike Over Working Hours

Auckland SkyCity casino workers are set to embark on strike action over unfavourable working hours. About 97% of the 900 employees who are under the Unite Union recently voted in favour of the strike. They are trying to force SkyCity to reimburse casino staff and set up incentives for working “unsociable hours” which include nights and weekends. Coincidentally, these are the times when SkyCity makes the most money.

The strike will start on August 31 at 17:00 and end in the morning of September 1. The union and its SkyCity casino workers have grown tired with the company’s approach to dealing with them, said lead negotiator and Unite National secretary Gerard Hehir. “SkyCity needs most of its workers at weekends and nights and makes most of its income during that time – but prefers to use the ‘stick’ rather than the ‘carrot’ to get staff [to work] at these times,” he said.

SkyCity casino workers Unite Union NZ

Currently, all low-paid SkyCity casino workers are in a rotating roster. They have to work regardless of their personal or family situation. This means that those who can’t really afford to work weekends or nights have to show up whether they want to or not. The Unite Union has been at the negotiation table with the casino for years, arguing for a more humane roster that incentivises people but SkyCity has been refusing to pay extra for the unsociable hours. “Apparently incentives are only for very highly-paid executives at SkyCity,” Hehir said.

SkyCity Casino Workers Grievances

According to the union, SkyCity coined NZ$144 million in profits this year so far. Furthermore, according to its 2019 Annual Report, CEO Graeme Stephens got nearly $2.4 million in incentives this year. Additionally, SkyCity’s top 86 executives each got a share of the $4.6 million incentives package along with their salaries.

What SkyCity casino workers want is for the company to recognise that not all hours are equal. They are calling for penalty rates to be awarded for nights and weekends. Firstly, this will encourage staff who able to work these hours to do so. And secondly, to give employees some choice about their working hours. The campaign, called “Back to the Weekend” is essentially about highlighting the rights of employees to be able to choose and spend more weekends with their families or doing what they want.

According to SkyCity site convenor Joe Carolan, SkyCity has so far refused to move on the issue. Furthermore, this strike SkyCity casino workers are embarking on it about worker’s rights as a whole.

“This year the union has fought three restructures forcing workers to work unpopular nights and weekend shifts. If we win this at SkyCity, we say to the government: this is a right that all workers in New Zealand should have again. In this time, we undid the damage of the early 1990s and brought back the weekend,” he said.

Auckland SkyCity casino workers are simply asking for what workers at the Adelaide, Australia branch get. After all, the Auckland workers generate the vast bulk of SkyCity’s company income.

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SkyCity Finances Experience a Decline in Annual Net Profits

SkyCity finances for the 2018-19 financial year paint a challenging picture for the casino and resort company’s performance. The group recently posted its full-year financial results ending on 30 June 2019. SkyCity finances show a 14.7% decline in its annual net profits after tax. The profits dropped from NZ$169.5 million in 2017-18 to NZ$144.6 million this year. This drop comes after the company sold its Darwin Casino and registering a lower win rate.

However, not all looks bad for SkyCity finances: the entertainment company’s normalised profits after tax increased by 1.9%. Additionally, its earnings before interest, tax, deprecation, and amortisation (EBITDA) increased by 1.3%. While the economic environment may be challenging, the group believes it performed as well as it could. SkyCity Entertainment’s CEO Graeme Stephens said the results were solid. Furthermore, he said that SkyCity’s operating results were slightly ahead of preliminary expectations.

SkyCity finances NZ

SkyCity Finances Not All Bad News

The sale of Darwin Caisno along with a long-term concession over the main car parks in Auckland will add about NZ$450 to SkyCity finances. Stephens says this income stream will repay debt and return some capital to its investors through buybacks.

The SkyCity finances of their Auckland branch saw a record EBITDA which increased by 2.8% compared to the last financial year. However, their two major development projects are experiencing some setbacks and delays. SkyCity recently said in a press release that their New Zealand International Convention Centre (NICC) and Horizon Hotel projects were moving slower than planned. However, they are still hopeful that they will be finished by the end of 2020.

SkyCity finances have made the entertainment group a bit cautious about the outlook for the upcoming fiscal year. This is due to the current difficulties being experienced by the company locally.

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