Resort casino director hits back at pressure to up bets

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Queenstown’s SkyCity casino would consider upping its bet maximum if demand from high rollers increased, a director says. 

Its bet limit is $10,000 a hand – SkyCity Auckland takes $100,000 bets. 

At the weekend, SkyCity Entertainment Group chief executive Nigel Morrison told The Southland Times high rollers didn’t want to come to Queenstown because of house limit constraints but he would love to be able to offer higher bets at the resort casino. 

SkyCity Entertainment Group shares its stake in the Queenstown operation with Queenstown-based tourism heavyweight Skyline Enterprises which has 40 per cent. 

“We’re not a big fan of join ventures,” Morrison added. 

In response, Skyline shareholder and former chairman Barry Thomas – one of Skyline’s two SkyCity Queenstown directors – tells Mountain Scene: “They can make those comments but quite frankly we haven’t had a lot of high rollers wanting to come down.” 

However, Thomas says they’d review the bet maximum in Queenstown if “demand came on strong”. 

“But the demand has been spasmodic and some of it is because of the location. 

“It’s all very well to say Queenstown is a lovely place but not all the high rollers care too much about that. They are there to gamble,” Thomas says. 

“We have some in Christchurch, who don’t even see the city. They arrive, play, play, play and leave.” 

Thomas says on occasion Queenstown ups it maximum allowable bet to considerably more than $10,000. 

“They are decisions we make depending on the person coming, where they’ve been, whether they’re winning or losing.” 

The main reason Queenstown doesn’t have a higher bet limit is the size of the operation. 

“It’s tiny. I mean compared to Auckland, it’s peanuts.” 

Skyline, a Queenstown-based tourism heavyweight, also has a 50 per cent share in Christchurch Casino. 

SkyCity has made offers for Skyline’s stakes in the Queenstown and Christchurch casinos but Skyline rejected the bids. 

Thomas: “I think Skyline is quite happy with its investment and doesn’t have any immediate plans for putting or making substantial investment anywhere else. 

“And they have been very good businesses. Christchurch has been very good in particular.” 

Skyline started Christchurch Casino before SkyCity later bought its 50 per cent stake. Skyline was also a founding shareholder in SkyCity Queenstown.

Disclosure: Barry Thomas is the owner of Mountain Scene newspaper