According to the MD of New Zealand’s SkyCity Entertainment Group, mergers and acquisitions amongst Australasian gaming companies are inevitable. SkyCity, which has operations in New Zealand and Australia, is not said to be considering any acquisitions at present although persistent rumours remain. There are five publicly listed gambling companies in the two countries; SkyCity, PBL, Tabcorp, Tattersall’s and Unitab.
New Zealand will not licence any new casinos for the foreseeable future and SkyCity already has venues in Adelaide and Darwin. This year the company celebrates its 10th Anniversary and counts growth, diversification and value creation as its achievements. Evan Davies, SkyCity Managing Director, speaking at this year’s Trans Tasman Business Circle lunch in Auckland claimed that his company has, “weathered something of a regulatory storm. We’ve prepared for and managed the impact of the 2003 Gambling Act, and 2004’s non-smoking legislation.”
SkyCity, although welcoming the New Zealand Ministry of Health approach to problem gambling and public health, is left feeling that during the regulatory climate change “the broader economic and community benefits originally sought, delivered upon and banked, have been somewhat forgotten.” The company shares the harm-minimisation objectives of its regulators but often has to deal with “regulatory measures mandated with little apparent regard to the benefits that what is a legal and legitimate business brings to the community and broader economy."
The impact of regulatory input on the operating environment will have considerable influence on Australasia’s gambling industry, and Mr Davies thinks that trans-Tasman harmonisation of gaming standards could possibly come about as a consequence of consolidation in the industry. He could not be drawn on the question of future takeovers, saying that any answer is always evasive or non-committal owing to the unpredictability of the process.
Closing his speech, Evan Davies commented that his company has a well developed sense of itself and its place in the trans-Tasman landscape, concluding that after ten years in the industry SkyCity is “well established, here to stay and anticipating the rest of the year, and the next SkyCity decade, with optimism.” (E-03.23.06)
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