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David Fisher

David Fisher is a senior reporter for the NZ Herald.

Casino's bid for taxpayer to cough up funding fails

An artists impression of the proposed Convention centre for Auckland. Photo / Supplied
An artists impression of the proposed Convention centre for Auckland. Photo / Supplied

SkyCity asked for taxpayers to pay for the marketing and promotion of the international convention centre.

It wanted an annual payment as part of the Government's end of the $350 million deal which would see them carry the cost of the centre. It would be a sweetener to the deal, with changes to the Gambling Act allowing 300 extra pokies and more table games, as well as an early renewal of its exclusive licence.

However, the Government has ruled out the annual payment.

The Auditor-General's report into the Government's handling of the SkyCity deal revealed the promotional incentive was sought by the casino in September 2010.

It stated an "annual payment for marketing and promoting the convention centre and associated business events" was on SkyCity's wish-list.

The negotiators for the casino also wanted the Government to buy land owned by TVNZ after the size of the planned convention centre expanded in line with the Prime Minister's demand they "think outside the box".

Yesterday, officials at the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment ruled out the possibility of a "subvention" payment. The term describes payments made by some convention centres to win bids - in some cases millions of dollars paid to organisers to secure conferences.

The 2009 feasibility study into the convention centre raised the likelihood of a "subvention fee", saying "a new venue would need a sufficient sales and marketing budget to develop appropriate subvention policies to attract conferences".

It added: "Subvention [incentive] policies recognise the economic value of conferences to host destinations."

A spokesman for Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said: "SkyCity has a range of requests and no agreement has yet been concluded."

- NZ Herald

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