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Disagreement Over Problem Gambling In SkyCity Casino Negotiations

SkyCity is looking to expand their gambling presence in New Zealand. Talks have been ongoing between the government and SkyCity, with the government insisting that the casino do more to address problem gambling. The casinos has shot back by claiming the majority of gamblers at SkyCity are recreational bettors.

The issue has become controversial as the government decides whether or not to extend the gaming license of SkyCity. Part of the negotiations have become complicated with SkyCity prepared fund a new convention center in Auckland. At times, the debates have become contentious, and some believe adding more gaming in the country is a recipe for disaster.

"Forty percent of the revenue that comes through those machines comes from people with problems," said Graeme Ramsey, the Head of the Problem Gambling Foundation in New Zealand. "When you've got that kind of product, then I think the kind of comments which say problem gambling is not good for our business need to be questioned, because quite frankly, the business is based on people who have problems."

Ramsey was responding to comments made by SkyCity Chief Executive Nigel Morrison. The gaming executive believes that SkyCity does a good job of keeping problem gambling to a minimum and that gamblers who play the machines in the casino are just everyday people.

"We have the most disciplined approach to harm minimisation of any property that you'll ever come across."

Prime Minister John Key is open to the idea of allowing SkyCity to expand, but he has stressed in negotiations that more will have to be done by the casino to curb problem gambling. Key also noted that minimal expansion could be good for the country financially, as tax revenue would increase with more gaming machines installed.

Morrison went into detail this week on the percentages relating to problem gambling in New Zealand. According to Morrison's figures, 0.7% of households deal with problem gambling due to casinos. Morrison drew a comparison to the 0.9% of households with problem gambling issues due to the lottery.

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