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Sky City online casino has entered the gambling fray, having announced the deal earlier this year. Already one of the top Kiwi casinos on land, Sky City is now available online for New Zealanders after signing a landmark deal and partnering with a Malta-based company a matter of weeks after NZ Minister for Internal Affairs, Tracey Martin, expressed her disappointment at Sky City for forging ahead. This comes as the New Zealand government has noticed an increase in NZD casinos heading online and finding offshore operators. The government is now working towards regulating the industry, citing that online gambling will fuel problem behaviours.

Concerns with Offshore NZD Casinos

Problem Gambling Foundation member, Andree Froude has reportedly said that the move puts New Zealand players at risk since there are currently no legal protections in place for online gamblers on offshore sites. In other words, new NZ casinos online cannot protect players under New Zealand law. Sky City online casino, for example, is based in Malta, and the business itself is an international company. Froude says that saying Sky City is a trusty brand name for New Zealand players is misleading, as Kiwi players won’t realise they’re not protected by local law. Froude says the organisation isn’t against gambling, but they are anti-harm.

The Concern for Online Gamblers at To Kiwi Casinos

Online gambling may be more addictive due to its round-the-clock availability, ease of banking and convenience. However, Sky City’s spokesperson has said that the company is voluntarily instituting harm reduction safeguards equal to those of their land-based casinos. Meanwhile, Sky City’s Maltese partner, GiG has mentioned that they look forward to supporting Sky City in its expansion into the virtual space. New Zealand is preparing to regulate its online casino market, and GiG has said they’re there to support Sky City when this happens.

Sky City Launches Online Casino

Sky City’s online casino has recently launched, and the deal between the company and GiG is expected to make a positive contribution to revenue from 2020. What’s more, Sky City has said it’s willing to pay up to NZ$40 million in tax, regardless of whether or not the government wants the casino. Meanwhile, Tracey Martin has said the current legislation doesn’t expressly prohibit the deal, but it is in contravention of the spirit of NZ law. She has said that this deal likely puts Sky City on the same footing as other offshore casino operators, and as the law stands, Kiwi players can access those gambling products.

NZD Casinos and Regulations

Currently, legislation in NZ is based on three principles – trusted providers, community benefit and harm minimisation. According to Martin, gambling online with overseas operators disrupts those principles. Last year November, EU authorities rebuked Malta for its slack money laundering laws, and it’s believed by some that the GiG/Sky City Online Casino partnership poses big tax risks. If servers are situated outside of NZ, does gambling in NZ even count? One concern is that Sky City’s subsidiaries aren’t able to identify gamblers using VPNs, and even if they can, should Sky City’s betting subsidiary pay tax on an activity that is currently illegal in New Zealand?

The Future of Regulated Gambling in New Zealand

This partnership comes at a time when regulation of the online gambling industry is in upheaval. A new gambling advertising code has recently been launched, closing the loophole offshore companies used to advertise to Kiwi players. The code is aimed at protecting children, young people and the vulnerable and under the new code, “free to play” websites may no longer be advertised. Where to from here remains to be seen but watch this space. Top Kiwi casinos are on the rise.