SkyCity Casino Willing To Take Less Blackjack Tables For More Pokie Machines
SkyCity, which is the main casino operator in New Zealand is bargaining with the gaming regulator to get more pokie machines in its Hamilton casino. In exchange, it is willing to close down several blackjack tables. Aussies and Kiwis use the term “pokie” to refer to slot machines which is the term used in the United States.
According to SkyCity, the demand for pokie playing rises during Fridays and Saturdays as well as during the holidays. The current number of pokie machines is not enough to meet the demand of visitors especially during weekends and holidays. This is why the casino operator is pushing to increase its pokie presence by 60 machines.
The operator is willing to shut down three blackjack tables in return. Should the gaming regulator approve the request, the final result would be 399 pokie machines and 20 blackjack tables in the casino.
This is the first time that such an exchange proposal has been put forward. SkyCity will have to prove that 60 pokies are worth three blackjack tables. The current laws already allow for gaming machines to substitute for table games but the company wants to make a precedent for the substitution.
The SkyCity legal team state that the exchange is a straightforward proposal and does not need a lot of equations to see if they balance out. SkyCity states that the 60 players for 60 pokie machines equal the 20 or so players for each blackjack table.
However, there are several stumbling blocks to the request. For one, critics are pointing out that the increase in pokies will draw more customers than the loss of the three blackjack tables will cause. This means that it would not be an equal exchange between the two. Yet another factor to consider is that players will be wagering more on these 60 pokies than what they would wager on their own at blackjack tables.
The opposition to this proposal is strong, with over 250 written public submissions objecting to the increase in pokie machines. It does not help that SkyCity has been criticized in the past for its handling of problem gamblers, with a recent sting operation highlighting the operator’s lack of responsibility.
The pokie vs. blackjack table trade off will be up for hearing in the next few days so that both sides can present their arguments.