SkyCity Entertainment is launching a New Zealand-facing online casino in a bid to win back some of the revenue that is leaking to offshore gambling operators.
With the exception of lotteries and the TAB, gaming and wagering firms are prohibited from running online gambling services in NZ.
That has not stopped thousands of Kiwi punters from betting at casino sites based overseas.
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“Online casinos are widely used by New Zealand customers and this trend will only continue,” said Graeme Stephens, SkyCity chief executive.
SkyCity has opted to sidestep local licensing issues by teaming up with Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) through a subsidiary company based in Malta – one of the world’s leading regulatory jurisdictions for online casino gambling.
Whereas other offshore operators pay no tax to the NZ government, SkyCity is pledging to cover GST and operate in accordance with the country’s responsible gambling laws.
The firm, which runs six land-based casinos in Australia and New Zealand, foreshadowed a move into the online gambling industry in August last year.
“The world is rapidly moving online and our industry is no exception, so we have to ensure we remain relevant to changing consumer trends and preferences,” Stephens added.
GiG will deliver a wide range of technical solutions for the SkyCity online casino project, including game software, multi-platform UX, compliance and marketing.
The Scandinavian company is a giant of the European online gambling industry and recently ventured into the booming North American market with casino and sportsbook operations in New Jersey.
“With this landmark deal, we are entering a completely new continent where we can build on our ambition as the global partner for strong brands in iGaming,” said Robin Reed, GiG chief executive.
“We look forward to supporting SkyCity in its expansion into the online space, where our full suite of products and solutions all form part of a very competitive offering to its online customers.
“New Zealand is preparing for the regulation of online casino gambling and we are there to support our partner further when it happens.”
SkyCity’s NZ online casino service is expected to be up and running within the next few months.