Christchurch Casino Asks For The First Gambling License Renewal
Christchurch Casino opened its doors in 1994 and is one of the oldest and most popular casinos in New Zealand.
The casino’s license is set to expire on November 4, 2019 and Christchurch Casino is already looking to push for a license renewal. This is a big deal because this will be the first casino license renewal since New Zealand allowed casinos to operate.
Skyline Enterprises, the operator behind Christchurch Casino filed its application for a license renewal with the Department of Internal Affairs earlier in 2018. They also paid the application fee of NZ$200,000. Earlier this week, the first hearing was conducted by the New Zealand Gambling Commission (NZGC) on the relicensing of Christchurch Casino.
Skyline is pulling out all the stops to get the license renewal approved. The company has already promised the creation of a new charitable fund and community liaison group as part of the requirements for getting its new license. They will also be required to give a minimum annual contribution to a charitable trust.
The NZGC is currently holding a three day meeting to discuss the license renewal process but no one expects a final decision to come out at the end of the week. This is because a total of 70 oral submissions were submitted to the commission and they will have to be all considered. These submissions come from various sources including the casino operator, the Christchurch City Council, the Problem Gambling Foundation.
One of the most interesting requirements that were put forth for the license renewal is by the Christchurch City Council. The condition warrants that Christchurch Casino be required to give a minimum amount to an independent charitable trust. The number being thrown about is 2.5 percent of the casino’s net profit or $500,000 if the percentage is lower than that amount.
Data from 2017 shows that the casino generated $16.1 million in profits. This would mean that the company would have to give around $402,500 based on the existing numbers. According to casino chairman Ken Matthews, the casino is unwilling to pay more than $250,000. He points to SkyCity Auckland and states that though the casino had agreed to the 2.5 percent or $500,000 requirement, it is also notably larger than the Christchurch Casino.
As a smaller casino with only 36 gaming tables and 50 slot machines, Matthews feels that his casino does not need to pay that much. The other requirements are easier to meet. The new discretionary fund will be set at $100,000, with the remainder being allocated to the charitable trust at the end of the year. The community liaison group should allow for better coordination with regards to problem gambling.