Tuesday June 16,2015 : NEW ZEALAND LAND OPERATOR UNDER FIRE FOR FREE-PLAY ONLINE WEBSITE
SkyCity denies "grooming" future gamblers.
The New Zealand publication Stuff reports that land casino operator SkyCity is already attracting flak soon after launching a free-to-play online gaming website.
The company has been accused by local Problem Gambling Association chief Graeme Ramsey of "grooming" visitors and introducing them to gambling with its free-play selection of slots, poker and blackjack at Skycityonline, where an age limit of 20 years is enforced.
Countering the claim, a SkyCity spokesman said the website's mission was to provide free fun and entertainment for visitors, a justification that Ramsay rejected, saying: "I don't for a second believe this is altruistic."
He added that although the content was free, it encouraged visitors to explore gambling and was purely a promotional venture and a fresh way in which to advertise gambling.
The SkyCity response to this was that there are no plans to morph the free-play offer into real-money gambling, and all promotion of the new site has been restricted to SkyCity's existing player base.
"SkyCity has not advertised the site beyond its existing customer base and has no plans to move to a ‘real money' gaming site – indeed, while thousands of such overseas sites are available to Kiwis at the click of a mouse, New Zealand-based gaming operators are prohibited by law from offering for-money online casino play," the spokesman pointed out.
Spot prizes of SkyCity gift vouchers or bonus loyalty points can be won through the online gaming platform but these must be redeemed at SkyCity and only members of the loyalty scheme can redeem a prize.
The Skycityonline website was launched this week as an added benefit for customers of SkyCity's Premier Rewards loyalty scheme and although any New Zealander over the age of 20 can play, it was aimed at regular customers, the spokesman said, adding that there was a limit on how often customers could play the online games.
Players can only refill their free game credits twice a day, and therefore SkyCity cannot be accused of trying to "get people hooked" on the games, he concluded.
Games on the site are from Bally Technologies.