Poker machines versus a convention centre

Auckland Scoop 22 April 2012
It’s not just problem gamblers who would suffer from the Prime Minister’s Sky City/convention centre deal. Auckland’s annual film festival, now in its fifth decade, would be affected as well. The Herald reveals today that the Sky City Theatre is under threat because the casino owners are considering how they could close the theatre and use the space to house the extra gambling machines that would be permitted as part of its convention centre deal.

….The list of opponents to the John Key poker-machines-for-convention-centre deal is a big one. Starting with Opposition leader David Shearer, who says officials recommended that a different business case be prepared. Councillor Cathy Casey says there is enormous public opposition to the extra poker machines that are a part of the deal. Professor Max Abbott of Auckland University has challenged SkyCity’s defence of the extra poker machines. He warns: “SkyCity Casino is in the middle of our major city and at best can only partially be described as a ‘destination’ gambling venue. As I understand it the casino relies predominantly on revenue from Auckland residents, particularly local pokie players.”

Family First’s opposition is predictable. But you can’t deny Bob McCroskie’s argument: “Tourists come to see the country and the culture – not the casinos. If tourists were really focused on gambling, they would be going to Las Vegas – not the Sky City casino venue in Auckland.”