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Inside the gaming hall
|Location||Auckland CBD, Auckland, New Zealand|
|Address||Corner Victoria and Federal Streets|
|Opening date||February 2, 1996|
|Signature attractions||Sky Tower|
|Owner||Skycity Entertainment Group|
SkyCity Auckland is a casino and event centre in the central business district of Auckland, New Zealand, between Victoria and Federal Streets. Located at the base of the Sky Tower, it was the second casino in New Zealand, and is still the only one in Auckland.
In addition to the Sky Tower, the complex includes a 700-seat theatre, a convention centre, 12 bars and restaurants, and two hotels. The main feature however is the casino itself, with over 1,600 gaming machines, and over 100 tables with games such as blackjack and roulette. The casino was most recently refurbished in 2006. The casino also has the 'Pacific Room' (table games) and the 'Platinum Room' (game machines) for VIP / high-stakes gamblers. The casino has a large percentage of Asian customers, and undertakes special initiatives to cater for them.
In September 2013, it was announced that SkyCity Auckland had purchased a 21m motor yacht "Horizon II" for corporate entertainment.
In February 2018, SkyCity Auckland opened New Zealand’s first purpose-built e-sports broadcasting studio, located on Level 2 of the Sky Tower, formerly known as XO Bar.
By 2019 it will also house a convention centre catering for up to 3500 guests, costing over $700 million, after cutting a deal with the Government that will allow it to install extra pokie machines and gambling tables.
SkyCity was the second casino in the country. At the time of its construction, it was controversial, just like the Sky Tower itself. Unlike the city's icon towering above it, major figures like former Auckland Mayor Dick Hubbard have remained critical of the casino, though he acknowledged that the complex itself has been positive for the city. However, there is criticism from various sources that the casino creates problem gambling and does not ban problem gamblers proactively enough.
The casino provides almost 2000 jobs (as of January 2006), and has returned NZ$670 million in dividends to mainly Australian shareholders, from more than eight million visitors that have passed through, 15% from overseas. NZ$18.6 million were also paid to community organisations and trusts in the same time. 1.5% of the operating profit has to be paid out to charity according to law.
With profits at its parent, the SkyCity Entertainment Group, falling, it has recently (May 2007) been announced that around 230 staff of Sky City would be let go within the coming 12–18 months, though it was considered that this was likely to be mostly through turnover attrition, and will be focused on management staff.
SkyCity Hotel, Auckland is a casino hotel and was opened in February 1996. It is one of New Zealands busiest hotels and is located inside the main Auckland complex and serves mainly families, business men and gamblers who play at the casino. It offers 323 rooms refurbished in 2013. Hotel guests may use all the facilities in the complex. It is a Qualmark rated 4 star hotel.
SkyCity Grand Hotel is a luxury 5 star hotel and was officially opened by Prime Minister Helen Clark in April 2005 after costing $85 million. It is not located inside the main complex but is adjacent and is connected by a skybridge. It serves mainly older guests, VIPs and high stake gamblers who play at the casino. Many celebrities have stayed at the hotel including Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera and Linkin Park. The Grand features 21 levels and 316 rooms. The rooms include The Grand Suite, 8 Premier Self Contained Suites, 11 Executive King Suites and 296 Luxury King rooms. The room interiors were designed by Chhada Siembieda (specialists in luxury hotel interiors and responsible for the W Hotel chain as well as the Hayman Island Resort, Sydney Hilton and the Hotel Intercontinental in both Sydney and in Hong Kong). Facilities and services include 24-hour room service and reception, a heated lap pool, fitness center, sauna, health spa, personal trainers, baby sitting and a hotel doctor.
Proposed convention centre
In May 2013, the Government came to a deal with SkyCity to build a convention centre worth $402 million in exchange for gambling concessions. The concessions would allow SkyCity to install an extra 230 poker machines, 40 gambling tables, as well as a further 12 gaming tables that could be substituted for automated table game player stations (but not poker machines). SkyCity would also receive an extension to their casino licence, from its expiry in 2021 until 2048. In exchange, SkyCity would be required to meet the full costs of the convention centre project.
Describing the benefit for New Zealand, Economic Development Minister, Steven Joyce said the convention centre would add an estimated $90 million a year to the local economy, create 1,000 jobs during construction and 800 jobs once the centre is running.
In 2015 it was announced that the anticipated cost of the convention centre had increased by $70 to $130 million, to a total maximum of $530 million. Prime Minister John Key said he was considering making up the shortfall by giving SkyCity public tax money to finish the project – as it would be an "eyesore" if the extra funding was not made available. Two days later on 12 February, following criticism in the media and in Parliament, the Prime Minister described the use of taxpayer funds as the "least preferred option". Subsequently, on 15 February, it was announced that instead of seeking funding from the government for project over-runs, SkyCity would instead be allowed to build a convention centre which was slightly smaller, so that total costs would remain about $400 million. The other option was that SkyCity could put in funds of its own to build a large convention centre. The Labour Party claimed the move was a win for those who were opposed to public money bailing out the deal.
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