Government inks final convention centre deal

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce. Photo/Greg Bowker
Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce. Photo/Greg Bowker

The Government has inked a deal with SkyCity under which the gambling company will build a $402 million convention in exchange for extra pokie machines.and other concessions.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce this morning confirmed he had signed off on a 368-page final agreement with the gambling company.

SkyCity will meet the full cost of building the $402 million convention centre under the terms of the deal.

In exchange it will receive:

* An additional 230 pokie machines on the casino floor
* An extension of its Auckland casino licence, which was due to expire in 2021, out to 30 June 2048, and an amendment to cover all of SkyCity's properties in Federal Street.
* An extra 40 gaming tables
* A further 12 gaming tables that can be substituted for automated table game player stations
* Up to 17 per cent of pokie machines and automatic table games being able to accept banknotes of denominations greater than $20

All up, the concessions are worth up to $527 million over the lifetime of the deal, according to analysts' estimates.

Mr Joyce said the deal was "great news" for Auckland and New Zealand.

He claimed it would provide a projected $90 million annual injection into the economy, an estimated 1000 jobs during construction and 800 jobs once it is up and running.

"The New Zealand tourism industry and business sector have been asking for an international-sized convention centre to be built in New Zealand for many years to tap into the growing market of high-value business visitors that we are currently missing out on.

"The Government and SkyCity have completed an agreement that will put New Zealand on the international map as a high-quality convention centre destination."

Labour Leader David Shearer called the agreement a "dodgy deal"

"Over 60 per cent of Kiwis are against National's pokies for convention centre stitch-up. That's no wonder; it's been a dodgy backroom deal from the start.

"John Key has essentially written a blank cheque for SkyCity. It will get more pokies, more gaming tables, ticket in - ticket out systems, cashless gambling and the ability to increase playing limits.

Shearer said the Government was refusing to listen to a finding by the Auditor General that SkyCity had been favoured over other tenderers.

He accused Key of acting as a "broker for vested interests".

"The deal undermines New Zealand's reputation for honesty and transparency.

- nzherald.co.nz

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