Casino operator SkyCity announced that it will soon launch an online casino to be operated from the Mediterranean country of Malta. The company does not intend to “monetize materially” from the website.
The casino’s Malta subsidiary SkyCity Malta will partner with Gaming Innovation Group, an Oslo and Stockholm stock exchange listed company, to offer this new online gambling service. The platform will be available to punters from New Zealand. The service will be launched by mid-2019 with a .com URL. Note that New Zealand laws allow only government-owned Lotto and TAB to offer online gambling services within the country.
In March, Kiwi internal affairs minister Tracey Martin expressed her disappointment about SkyCity’s decision to continue with its online casino plans. She said that the move highlights how inadequate the country’s existing laws are. SkyCity chief executive Graeme Stephens is confident that the new site will offer customers a safe and secure platform to gamble. He also noted that the company does not wish to monetize the platform. It is the company’s move to enter the online gambling space strategically and gather some long-term relevance.
Stephens also said that SkyCity will support future plans by the New Zealand government to regulate the online casino market. It also supports the introduction of an appropriate licensing regime for gambling operators as well as a taxation policy.
SkyCity is okay with mandatory host responsibility requirements too. Stephens added further than a regulated online gaming market is ultimately the best solution. He said that the new gambling platform is the first step for the company to enter the online gaming space and give their customers an option they have been demanding. As online casinos are in high demand in the country, the trend is expected to continue in the future as well.
The company’s online casino business will be managed by its Europe-based director Steve Salmon. On the other hand, Problem Gambling Services spokeswoman Andree Froude noted that the agency had some concerns about the company’s online casino plans. She said that it puts vulnerable people at risk as the locals who use this site will not be protected by New Zealand law.
However, SkyCity disagrees with the view and says that it will provide best-in-class services to the users and a trustworthy brand name for the local punters. Froude, in turn, asked what “best-in-class” meant and how the company will provide responsible host services in an unregulated market. She argued that online gambling could be highly addictive as it is available 24/7, can be carried around in the pocket and can also be hidden very easily.