Friday, July 12, 2013

Skycity Convention Centre A Good Deal For All Concerned

The Government and casino owners Skycity have signed a deal under which the company will build and operate a 3500-seat convention centre in return for being allowed more poker machines and an extension of their casino licence to 2048.

The arrangement has run into a barrage of objections from the hand-wringing classes - "problem gambling will increase"  is their plaintive cry.  They should stop whining.  The loudest noise comes from people whose jobs depend on a steady supply of addicts to "counsel and support". 

Wellington's Dominion-Post - a pathetic imitation of a real newspaper - boomed "If the Government truly believes doctors, dentists and real estate salespeople can be persuaded to hold thier (sic) annual shindigs at the bottom of the world, the new centre should be paid for by those who will profit from it – tourist operators, Auckland ratepayers and taxpayers, in that order."

What, no contribution from the Wellington cafes that will pick the pockets of the doctors, dentists and real estate sales people as they explore the rest of the country before or after their "shindig"? Nor from the ferry operators that will carry them to and from the South Island . . . not to mention the civil servants that will be employed watching over this Auckland den on iniquity. 
Just how stupid can an editorial writer be? Pretty damn stupid judging by the piece they printed on 14 May 2013.  Read the drivel here.  

The tourism strategy behind the convention centre is simple:  Build it and they will come.  And then they will spend more time enjoying the rest of the country's tourist attractions. Businesses from North Cape to Bluff will be getting their share of the spoils as 33,000 high-wealth conventioneers annually spread the wallet love around. 

And as for the proposition that the increase in poker machines and gaming tables will result in an increase in problem gambling - what statistical bosh. There are already 1600-odd poker machines in the place.  Anyone who is at risk of addiction already has ample opportunity to fall into evil ways.  

It's not like there are queues of people waiting for a vacant machine. 

On the other hand if you have a couple of thousand convention attendees in the house I can well see why the casino might want more machines and tables to relieve them of some of their cash. Where's the harm? The average conventioneer can afford it and is unlikely to become addicted. 

As for the license extension, given that the company has a mega-million dollar investment in the casino, hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions, a theatre and the convention centre is there any serious suggestion that the casino license would not be renewed in the normal course of events? Of course not. 

All this deal does is make a virtue of the inevitable, thus giving the company's shareholders some certainty in return for their huge investment in tourism infrastructure
And, no, I am not a fan of casinos. Haven't been there in years. 

But I do like the tourist attractions they offer -  Skytower, Skywalk, Skyjump and the Weta Cave.  And they operate a couple of excellent hotels and a raft of good nosh spots.  Find out more about these - and other Auckland - attractions by downloading "A New Zealand Travel Guide" eBook.  Here's the link.

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