Although there is officially only one casino in Auckland New Zealand and a capped total of 6 physical casinos in the entire country, and four of them are operated by Sky City Entertainment group, so there might just as well be five. In August of 2019, Sky City, which was officially prohibited, as are all online casinos from creating an online casino within the shores of New Zealand, created Sky City Malta, combining the well-known name brand of Sky City with the next best thing, a gaming license in Malta.
There are approximately 287 off-shore remote casinos licensed in the world, by far the biggest in the world. And compared to most other jurisdictions with the exception of the UK, Malta-licensed casinos are the toughest, with strict anti-laundering laws and tough enforcement procedures. When Sky City Auckland opened in 1996, it was the second physical casino to open and was and remains the largest casino in New Zealand.
Sky City Auckland has over 100 gaming tables, 9 poker tables, and 2,100 slot machines, and video poker machines. Besides the numerous other facilities such as the hotel, dining, and entertainment available, there are nearly 70,000 square feet dedicated to gambling.
By way of comparison the average casino in Las Vegas has around the same amount of slot machines but as much as twice as much space dedicated to gambling as Sky City Auckland. Meanwhile, it has hard to say how many games are allowed at SkyCity Malta as only those who live in New Zealand and Australia are allowed to play.
SkyCity Entertainment group does not expect its Sky City Malta to generate a substantial amount of income, but the company sees this as an exploratory step to bridge the gap between those who will go to a physical casino like Sky City Auckland. those who will play slot machines at New Zealand’s bar and pub pokies, and those who like to gamble but just do so at home using overseas casinos.
SkyCity During Lockdown
In 2020, Sky City Entertainment group, despite having to temporarily close casinos in both Australia and New Zealand posted nearly $235 million in profits, a net gain of 62 percent.
New Zealanders, by the way, are among the most rabid gamblers on the planet. According to statistics every adult in New Zealand spends around $128 of the $572 they spend at one of the six casinos, another $160 playing the lotto, $80 through the TAB horseracing circuit, and a whopping $204 on playing slot machines at the pub and bar pokies.
Without necessarily saying so, it seems clear that SkyCity Group is eyeing the possibility of pealing off a substantial portion of that $204 per person at its Malta Casino. While it is true that community licensed pokies are required to return 40 percent of their profits to the community in local grants, casino operators such as Sky City are aware that the payoffs at slot machines are extremely miserly for the players. It’s not that Kiwi players don’t mind giving a buck here and there to community foundations, many pokies pay out only the state-required minimum, many pokies only pay out around 78 percent in a return to players. Meanwhile, at a typical online casino, the payouts at slot machines are as high as 96 percent or more.
Auckland Slot Options
So many Kiwi gamblers, those who love to play slot machines, would rather stay at home and collect a higher return to the player. Of course, it’s also not just the return to player that counts. In addition, there is the hit rate. Two slot machines can have identical return to player rates, but still, the majority of the customers lose. This is due to the hit rate. The return rate is the total collected minus the house advantage. But the return to player rate is calculated over thousands, and dare we say millions of pulls. It’s possible, for example, to have theoretically only one winner in a string of 10,000 losers, but if the overall payoff is high enough the machine will still be said to have a return to player rate of 80 percent or more.
What counts equally as much is the hit ratio. Some machines have a relatively high hit ratio, meaning that you may not win a lot, but the machine pays out often. In the reverse, a machine that mostly has losers is considered a low-hit rate machine. There are a few big winners but most people lose.
Future of Casinos in Auckland
New Zealand seems to be absolutely firm that the number of six physical casinos remains at six forever. However, it seems Sky Entertainment Group is certainly testing the water as to whether they can push the government toward allowing online casinos based in New Zealand.
It seems the battle has just begun with physical casinos such as SkyCity Aukland realizing the lesson well that the government can shut down their physical casinos during such things as pandemics. What will the future hold? Who knows. Personally, we are betting that within 5 years, online casinos will be legal through the shores of New Zealand.