SkyCity to launch Malta-based ‘skycitycasino’ online gambling site in mid-2019

Casino operator SkyCity is launching an online casino that will be operated from the Mediterranean but it does not expect to "monetise materially" from the website.

SkyCity's Maltese subsidiary SkyCity Malta, will partner with Oslo and Stockholm stock exchange listed company Gaming Innovation Group to provide the online casino gambling platform which will be available for New Zealanders.

It is expected to be launched in mid-2019 and will have a .com URL.

New Zealand laws stipulate that only government-owned Lotto and the TAB are permitted to offer online gambling from within New Zealand.

In March Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin said she was disappointed SkyCity was forging ahead with its online casino plans. The move showed the inadequacy of existing laws, she said.

SkyCity chief executive Graeme Stephens said it was not initially expecting to "monetise materially" from the online casino.

"It should be seen more as a strategic entry into a space that we believe has long-term relevance."

He said SkyCty would support any future plans by the Government to regulate the New Zealand online casino market, including introducing an appropriate licensing regime for operators and imposing taxes and mandatory host responsibility requirements.

"While ultimately a regulated online gaming market is the best solution, we think this is a great first step that allows us entry to a new industry and gives our customers an option they have been looking for," Stephens said.

Online casinos were widely used by New Zealanders and this trend would only continue, he said.

The skycitycasino online gambling site would offer customers "a safe, secure environment" to gamble in, he said.

The online casino business would be managed by Europe-based director Steve Salmon.