SkyCity takes another step towards online gambling

SkyCity Entertainment is offering to pay tax voluntarily as part of its moves to set up an offshore online gaming operation.

Online gambling is illegal in New Zealand, but many New Zealanders play on overseas-based sites which is legal under New Zealand. The bets and any taxes are therefore lost to the New Zealand economy.

As a result, SkyCity is planning to partner with an overseas-based website to offer gambling on sports events to New Zealanders and expects to turn a profit in its second year of operation.

Spokesman Colin Espiner says the SkyCity will self-regulate based on its host responsibility practices in its real-world casinos, and as part of this will calculate its tax obligations and pay them to the government or to its already established Community Trust programme. The tax could be worth up to NZ$40 million ($30 million) after the first year.

Tracey Martin, the government minister responsible to gambling regulation says she is “disappointed” SkyCity is moving ahead with its plans (announced last August) as she is about to take a paper to Cabinet on the regulation of online gambling.

SkyCity says it hopes the government will agree to online gaming being allowed in New Zealand, but will push ahead with its plans regardless, and is keeping the government and other parties “in the loop” about its plans.