New Zealand’s biggest casino operator SkyCity is planning to take its business online by exploiting loopholes in existing regulations. Operators cannot operate online casinos in the country, but SkyCity will be operating overseas to escape these rules. While operating online casinos is illegal, accessing online poker and casino websites is not illegal for players. Therefore, offshore gaming sites have a field day in the country that provide their services to the country’s players without any oversight from the government.
Kiwi players spent an estimated $648 on gambling activities in 2018. They also spend a total of $180 million using offshore casino websites. SkyCity wants to tap into this profit by moving its online operations to Europe, where gaming operators face few hassles in operating their business. The most likely location for the new operation will be Malta or Gibraltar. Though the company announced its plans in August last year, the site will not be live before the end of 2019. The website will allow players to wager in New Zealand dollars.
The site will offer roulette, craps, blackjack, slots and other casino games to the players though sports betting will not be available. The company has also stayed mum on the prospect of adding poker to the mix. The company indicated that it would be sticking to the local laws, including the strict advertising rules of the country which prohibits operators from marketing their services directly to players. The website will use organic search engine optimization techniques to reach their target audience.
The company doesn’t have a license from the local government because of which it will not offer tax revenue to the state. However, the company suggests that its online activities could generate $40 million in taxes. It will pay it to the government as tax, and if that doesn’t seem a possibility, it will donate the money to local charities.
The company’s decision to operate an offshore online operation hasn’t appealed to everyone. The country’s internal affairs minister Tracey Martin said that she is disappointed with the company’s plans but noted that the country doesn’t have adequate online gambling laws. She said that online poker laws are outdated. If SkyCity’s move could bring in significant revenue, it could make the government rethink its approach to online gaming.