Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Casino eyes big boost in floorspace

SkyCity Casino. Photo / Jason Dorday
SkyCity Casino. Photo / Jason Dorday

SkyCity has confirmed plans to increase floorspace at its Auckland casino as it seeks Government approval for more gaming machines in return for building a $350 million national convention centre.

But the company says its expansion plans are not linked to the convention centre proposal and yesterday denied suggestions the controversial deal had been finalised.

The Herald understands SkyCity has told contractors the deal has been concluded and the convention centre will go ahead.

An employee of one of the contractors told the Herald SkyCity was planning to alter the entrance area to the casino to fit in more pokies.

SkyCity spokesman Gordon Jon Thompson yesterday confirmed the casino was considering increasing its floorspace by extending the third floor, where its main gaming area is, out into the upper part of the atrium at the main Victoria St entrance.

However, Mr Thompson said the plans were preliminary. Any increase in floorspace would not necessarily result in a larger gaming area, and "any plans we have to enhance our Auckland property are not linked to the convention centre negotiations and are not contingent on concluding the negotiations".

"We are always looking to enhance our property and improve customer experience. This is business as usual."

The casino had not made any final decisions on the work.

Mr Thompson also said no deal had yet been struck with the Government over the convention centre.

A spokeswoman for Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce, whose ministry has been leading negotiations with SkyCity, said yesterday that while talks were well advanced, "it would be incorrect and misleading to say any final deal had been reached".

"The minister is not expecting any agreement to be concluded until after the Office of the Auditor-General report has been released."

The Auditor-General has been investigating how SkyCity was chosen to build the convention centre after Prime Minister John Key dined with the company's board and suggested they should pitch for the contract.

A spokeswoman for Mr Key yesterday confirmed his office had now provided feedback on the draft report, "as have other relevant interested parties".

Last month, the Office of the Auditor-General said it would publish the final report once it had received feedback on its draft from the relevant parties.

- NZ Herald

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