A planned expansion to the SkyCity casino in Auckland has enraged Asian community groups, who say that Asian jobs are more at risk than those of other residents of the City. After a change in the New Zealand gambling laws that allowed SkyCity to bring in 230 extra poker machines, 52 extra gaming tables and extend their license until 2048, in return for building a new convention center, problem gambling groups spoke out.
Problem gambling counselor Donghwan Lim of the Korean Community Wellness Society, commented: “There are so many Asian people disproportionately getting harmed by SkyCity.”
The convention center deal – which is expected to cost NZ$ 400 million – was promoted on the basis that it would attract further tourism from outside the country. However, current figures show that, of the casinos users, only 10% are not from the local area. With online casinos in New Zealand technically illegal, local gamblers flock to their city’s brick and mortar casino and small poker rooms, in order to play cards and machines.
Auckland council had also opposed the bill that allows the expansion, but both the Heart of the City Business Lobby and the Catholic Church’s Auckland Diocese Justice and Peace Commission supported the bill, claiming that the extra jobs would be a boon for the city. This piece of gambling news was actually welcomed by the church, with Catholic Justice and Peace Commission member Seamus Donegan in favor for the supervision government controlled buildings provide.
“If we didn’t have a casino, we’d bet on horse racing, because the reality is that gambling is a legitimate chosen form of recreation for Chinese people. With SkyCity, at least it’s an environment that is monitored and it’s an environment that is regulated, so if gambling is going to happen I’d much rather see it happen in an environment where Government can exercise supervision and control.”