SkyCity is the biggest casino operator in New Zealand, and the company wants to take its business online. While the country’s law still prohibit the operation of online casinos, SkyCity is making plans to use a loophole by operating overseas in order to take advantage of the many benefits that running an online casino provides.
New Zealand’s Current Gambling Laws
Current laws in New Zealand dictate that it is illegal for operators to offer online gambling services to local players. However, this doesn’t mean that players can get into legal trouble for playing at online poker and online casino websites. There is no legal recourse against players who access offshore gaming sites, and there are still plenty of offshore sites that continue to offer their services to players without having been reprimanded by New Zealand’s government.
Gaming is a hugely popular pastime in New Zealand, with players having spent the equivalent of $648 each on gambling activities in 2018. It is also estimated that Kiwis spend about $180 million at offshore casino websites every year, and SkyCity wants to reclaim some of those profits. Since the company cannot operate an online casino from within New Zealand, SkyCity will be taking itself to Europe where gaming providers are legally free to run casino websites.
SkyCity’s Plans for a European Online Casino
SkyCity’s proposed online casino will be based somewhere in Europe, and it will most likely be located in Malta or Gibraltar. The company made its plans known in August 2018, and the site is likely to be live by the end of 2019. Even though operators cannot base their online casinos in New Zealand, they can offer their services to players across the country, so the new SkyCity website will accept local players and allow them to wager in New Zealand dollars.
The site will offer players the ability to play casino games like slots, roulette, blackjack and craps. Sports betting will not yet be available on the site, and there is no word yet on whether or not poker will be offered. As such, it will solely be an online slots site for NZ based players.
Even though SkyCity is using a loophole to offer its online casino to New Zealand, the company will be sticking to local laws. For example, there are strict advertising rules that restrict online casinos from directly marketing their services to players in the country. As such, SkyCity will use organic search engine optimization in order to attract more players rather than using standard advertising methods.
Since the company doesn’t have a license from the New Zealand government, SkyCity may not be able to offer tax revenue from its online gaming profits – but plans to contribute anyways. Executives estimate that online operations could generate upwards of $40 million in taxes and, if the government won’t accept the contribution, SkyCity will donate the money to local charities instead.
How to Play at SkyCity’s New Online Casino
Once SkyCity’s online casino website goes live, players will be able to sign up to the site just like they would at any other gaming site that accepts New Zealand players. You’ll have to be of the legal gambling age in New Zealand, which is 20-years-old, to sign up for an account and verification documents will be required to confirm that this is the case.
You’ll be able to fund your account using a wide range of payment methods like credit cards, debit cards and e-wallets. It is unlikely that popular e-wallets like PayPal will be available, but Skrill and Neteller should be accepted.
The site will accept New Zealand dollars, so you don’t have to bother with currency conversions and possibly losing money by converting it to pounds, euros or American dollars. This makes for convenient online gaming banking that is sure to appeal to local players.
The best part about playing at SkyCity New Zealand is that the site will be associated with a well-known local brand. Players already know that SkyCity is a reputable company that takes care of its players, so they’ll feel comfortable wagering online with this company.
A Controversial Decision
While online casino players in New Zealand are thrilled that they’ll be able to play online with the country’s popular local gaming operators, SkyCity’s decision has still ruffled a few feathers. Tracey Martin, NZ’s Internal Affairs Minister, stated that she is “disappointed” that SkyCity is forging ahead with its plans but still acknowledges that the country’s current online gambling laws are inadequate.
Her admission that New Zealand’s online poker laws are somewhat outdated is a good sign. This entire movement could certainly cause a shift in attitudes towards online gaming among lawmakers in the country – especially if SkyCity’s online casino is able to bring in plenty of revenue.
Bethany is a graduate of York University’s Professional and Creative Writing program. Having earned her degree in 2009, she quickly jumped into blogging and has worked as a writer in the casino market for 10 years. Bethany loves all things gaming and, when she’s not writing, you can usually find her glued to her Xbox.