2 Sep 2013

Auckland Council speaks out against SkyCity deal

8:28 pm on 2 September 2013

The Auckland Council has come out strongly against the Government's deal with SkyCity for a convention centre.

Parliament's Commerce Committee was in Auckland on Monday hearing submissions on the bill covering the deal - under which SkyCity would build a $402 million convention centre in return for being allowed to expand its gambling operation.

Speaking for the council, councillor George Wood told the committee 4539 people received help for problem gambling in Auckland last year, and the proposed concessions to SkyCity would likely make that statistic worse.

Mr Wood said that while the council recognised the potential economic benefits, the deal should not be based on initiatives that cause harm to the community

Another councillor, Cathy Casey, said the wording in the bill was so broad it could allow SkyCity to turn its entire complex, including the bus terminal and outdoor areas, into a Las Vegas-style casino with poker machines in the reception and outdoor areas.

Earlier, a commissioner with the Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Church, Seamus Donegan, told the committee he would rather see people gamble at the SkyCity casino, where problem gambling was monitored, than at racetracks and pubs.

Mr Donegan added, however, that the casino's gambling licence should be regularly reviewed to see what impact the deal had on the community.

The Commerce Committee is due to report back to Parliament by 14 November.