Hamilton Mayor Andrew King is opposing a request by SKYCITY Casino Hamilton to add 60 additional gaming machines to the casino floor.
In a statement from the mayor's office, Mr King said he is against casino's application to add the new machines.
"I am completely against the casino's application to add more harm; it spits in the face of Hamilton's sinking lid policy on gaming machines", Mr King said.
SKYCITY Hamilton has made an application to the Gambling Commission to add 60 additional gaming machines to its current total of 339. In exchange the casino will remove three blackjack tables.
"The casino could have 399 machines which is nearly 50 per cent of all pokie machines in Hamilton. SKYCITY wants to capitalise on a high-earner harm product, by requesting 60 more misery machines" Mr King said.
The Gambling Act 2003 states there is to be no increase in casino gambling and any increase in gaming machines must be accompanied by a reduction in table games.
"I believe this will increase casino gambling, three black jack tables which are probably empty being exchanged for 60 individual chances to gamble is an increase in my view and is probably the view of many others" Mr King said.
SKYCITY Hamilton casino operations brings in $48-$50 million each year, with a tiny amount being returned to the wider Waikato and Bay of Plenty community via grants every year. By comparison Class 4 gaming machines found in pubs and bars by law must return 40% of their net profits back to the community through grants, the mayor's statement said.
"It is just shocking that SKYCITY has not looked at what the local community wants, which is less pokies, but instead look to improve their bottom line with misery money", Mr King said.
Hamilton City Council has no jurisdiction on the decision to grant the additional gaming machines, however the council is classified as an affected party and has a right to make a submission to the gambling commission on the decision.
"I have a strong opinion on the issues, but I look forward to the debate and discussion with councillors on the contents of any submission council makes to the Gambling Commission," Mr King said.
The Council will make a decision on a submission at the February 7 council meeting.
General Manager of SKYCITY Hamilton, Michelle Baillie said the request to add further machines is a response to the demand from customers
"The number of player spaces available for gaming will actually reduce under the proposed change, and therefore will not increase opportunities to gamble, as we have submitted to the Commission. The Gambling Act provides for such changes with the Commission's approval."
"The plan is part of a broader suite of proposals SKYCITY is evaluating for its Hamilton site, including maximising our riverside location and adding a hotel and broader entertainment options.
"SKYCITY consistently reinvests in its facilities and in Hamilton over the past three years this has included a number of new restaurants and bars in 2015, and Bowl and Social in 2016, totalling more than $21 million.
"Any comparison of Class 4 and casino funding models needs to take into account the significant investment made by casinos into facilities for public enjoyment as well as the wider contributions casinos make via their extensive host responsibility requirements, large staff, taxation, and gambling levies. SKYCITY is a large Hamilton employer, with over 330 waged and salaried employees.
"Since SKYCITY gained 100 per cent ownership in 2005, SKYCITY Hamilton has contributed more than $325 million to the economy, including $149 million in salary and wages, $139.6 million in taxes and levies, $25.8 million in payments to local suppliers, and $11.1 million in community support and sponsorships to more than 1600 groups.
''SKYCITY Hamilton was recently commended by the Department of Internal Affairs for its "culture of care'' and promoting a good standard of gambling host responsibility.
"We look forward to the Commission's consideration of our application when it meets to consider it in March.''