A recent NZ Herald article reported that SkyCity's casino licenses in New Zealand could be suspended if a new proposal by Internal Affairs succeeds . This development stems from an ongoing review of SkyCity's suitability to operate casinos in the country after recent issues with anti-money laundering procedures.
According to the NZ Herald, Internal Affairs filed documents seeking a potential suspension of SkyCity's licenses for its Auckland, Hamilton, and Queenstown casinos. This request will need approval from the Gambling Commission. However, if granted, it would mark the first time casino licenses have been suspended in New Zealand.
The proposed suspension relates to audits in 2020 and 2021 that revealed significant anti-money laundering failures by SkyCity. The company has since faced enforcement actions and financial penalties but has yet to resolve all issues to satisfy Internal Affairs.
Internal Affairs aims to force SkyCity to comply with its audit recommendations more urgently by pursuing a suspension. The suspension would likely last until SkyCity implements improved anti-money laundering processes.
Industry experts express surprise at Internal Affairs' aggressive approach. Temporary suspension of SkyCity's licenses could cause significant disruptions to casino operations. It may also impact tourism, employment, and government revenues.
However, Internal Affairs insists swift, firm actions are needed to compel SkyCity's compliance. The department says suspension provides the most substantial incentive to fast-track anti-money laundering reforms.
SkyCity will likely argue suspension is unreasonable given its efforts to date. The company may propose an alternative resolution to avert license suspension. However, SkyCity must placate regulators' urgent demands for anti-money laundering improvements to keep its casinos open.
The possibility of temporary casino closures sends ripples through New Zealand's gaming industry. It remains to be seen whether SkyCity can negotiate a settlement or if the Gambling Commission will order the first-ever suspension of casino licenses.
Observers watch closely to see if SkyCity can promptly satisfy regulators and keep its flagship Auckland casino and other properties operating without disruption. This will be a critical test case for New Zealand casino oversight and anti-money laundering enforcement.