SkyCity snaps up Queenstown’s Wharf Casino for $5 million

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SkyCity Entertainment Group is continuing its big plays in Queenstown by buying its casino rival.

The company, which owns the Beach Street casino, announced on Friday night that it had bought Otago Casinos Ltd, which operates the smaller Lasseters Wharf Casino in the Steamer Wharf complex, for $5 million.

The purchase is subject to regulatory approval from the Commerce Commission and the Gambling Commission.
Lasseters Wharf Casino, which includes the former Boardwalk Restaurant, has a maximum of 74 electronic gaming machines and six gaming tables.

The casino opened in 1999, 15 months before its rival, after the Casino Control Authority controversially allowed two operators to set up.

SkyCity’s purchase comes after it took over complete ownership of the Beach St casino in December last year when it paid local-based tourism/property company Skyline Enterprises $5m for its 40 per cent stake.

SkyCity has also been announced as the operator of the proposed Queenstown convention centre on the council’s old Man Street campground site.

“The purchase of the Wharf Casino is part of our strategy of increasing our presence in Queenstown,” SkyCity chief executive Nigel Morrison says.

“SkyCity sees Queenstown as an area of significant potential for continued tourism development and as one of New Zealand’s leading tourism operators, we are very interested in the region.

“Queenstown is already a very popular destination for our overseas VIP guests.”

Asian-based Lasseters bought the Wharf Casino in 2006 and has struggled most years to make a profit.