SkyCity halts gaming operations in New Zealand

by Charlotte Lee Last Updated
Campbell leaves SkyCity Board after four years

New Zealand’s SkyCity Entertainment Group has announced the temporary closure of its venues in Auckland, Hamilton and Christchurch after a fresh outbreak of COVID-19 in the country.

iGaming Business reports that the closure will last for at least seven days in Auckland and three days elsewhere.

The measures follow a single positive COVID-19 case in the Auckland community.

Auckland and Coromandel are expected to remain at level four alert for seven days.

SkyCity’s Auckland hotel will remain open in order to accommodate existing guests.

The company’s Adelaide property underwent its own temporary closure in July and will be unaffected by these changes.

It continues to operate while maintaining social distancing and hygiene requirements.

Bumper profits predicted before COVID-19 closures

Strong domestic demand for electronic gaming is behind SkyCity’s predicted profit rise.

SkyCity is expecting a normalised net profit after tax between NZ$84 million and NZ$88 million in 2021, compared with NZ$66.3 million last financial year.

The company’s local gaming business in New Zealand has continued to see strong performance, while its Australian casino, SkyCity Adelaide, has shown consistent performance.

The company has already recently established an offshore online gaming arm, SkyCity Malta, which has produced consistent performances.

“SkyCity’s tourism-related businesses in New Zealand and South Australia continue to be impacted by ongoing border closures, excluding the Trans-Tasman border, which reopened on April 19, but are benefitting from positive domestic tourism, particularly on weekend and holiday peaks,” the company said.

SkyCity said it expects to comfortably meet its financial covenants for the June 30 testing period and therefore pay a final dividend in September.

SkyCity proposes $3 an hour base pay rate rise

SkyCity has engaged in bargaining talks with Unite Union, who have welcomed a proposal of a $3 an hour increase in the base rate at the casino.

This would take minimum wage at the venue from $20.10 to $23.10 an hour.

“This is a good start to bargaining for the union collective agreement which is scheduled to start in mid-August,” Unite Union advocate Mike Treen said.

“We think they were morally required to raise wages above the living wage as they had essential workers working right through the level four lockdown in 2020.

“We also think the correct response to a supposed labour shortage is to start by paying at least a living wage and it’s really positive to see a major hospitality employer do the right thing here.”

“The union is disappointed that the company, for the first time, has started negotiations with their non-union staff before bargaining concluded with the union.

“We are also disappointed that the company deliberately delayed the start of bargaining by several weeks, seemingly to allow the company time to make this pre-emptive strike in bargaining to undermine the union and its role.

“I wrote to the company on July 10 arguing that “we need to restructure pay at SkyCity to reward staff for their skills and service and the unhealthy unsocial hours they must work.

“There clearly needs to be a substantial wage movement to do so.

“A three dollar an hour increase in the base rate is a good start. We will bank this offer as the starting point for bargaining and concentrate on rewards for skill, service and compensation for anti-social hours the SkyCity staff have to work.”

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