SkyCity Entertainment Limited will be going before the New Zealand gambling regulator on Tuesday to seek permission to swap gambling tables for gaming machines at its Hamilton casino.
SkyCity is proposing to surrender its license for three blackjack tables at its casino, in return for installing a further 60 electronic gaming machines.
Although swaps of this kind are permitted under New Zealand legislation, this is the first time such an application has been made.
In its submission, SkyCity argued that three blackjack tables constitute 63 player spaces compared to 60 player spaces on 60 EGMs.
If approved as proposed, the number of EGMs in the gambling area would increase from 339 to 399, and the number of gaming tables in the gambling area would decrease from 23 to 20.
The application was notified to the public and 251 submissions were received almost all in opposition to the plan citing various grounds with many focused on the harm that additional EGMs would create.
SkyCity says in its submission that there is unmet demand at its casino for playing on EGMs, and it would like to be able to meet that demand.
It also noted that other EGM operators such as bars and clubs do not practice the same level of host responsibility that it does, and it points to a mystery shopper exercise conducted by the Department of Internal Affairs of host responsibility in pokie machines venues which found SkyCity’s casinos came out top and well ahead of other bars and clubs.