SkyCity's controversial and unprecedented application to introduce another 60 pokie machines at its Hamilton casino will be heard tomorrow.

The public hearing, overseen by the Gambling Commission, is to be held at Distinction Hotel and Conference Centre in Te Rapa and is set out for six days.

SkyCity applied to swap three Black Jack tables for 60 pokie machines in December 2018 and it was initially to be decided without a public hearing.

But Hamilton City Council, along with the majority of verbal submitters, has strongly opposed the "irresponsible" move, prompting the commission to change its mind.


Under former Hamilton mayor Andrew King, the council voted to spend $150,000 to hire law firm Tompkins Wake to fight SkyCity's application and present the submission on the council's behalf.

SkyCity, Hamilton City Council, Problem Gambling Foundation, Salvation Army, Anglican Action, Ministry of Health and Waikato DHB have been authorised to speak at the hearing.

This is the first time a NZ casino operator has lodged an application with the Commission to substitute electronic gaming machines (EGMs) for gaming tables. It can only be approved if the Commission rules the exchange is proportionate.

The Commission will run between 10.00am-11.30am, 11.45am-1.00pm,
2.00pm-3.15pm and 3.30pm-5.00pm. The public is welcome to attend, but cannot speak or ask questions.

If SkyCity's application is successful, it will boost the number of pokie machines at the Hamilton casino to 399.

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