New Zealand SkyCity Casinos To Reopen Thursday

New Zealand casino operator SkyCity Entertainment Group will reopen its three domestic properties on Thursday (14) after obtaining the Government’s all-clear.

SkyCity announced Tuesday that the government would be downgrading to COVID-19 Warning Level 2 as of Thursday, paving the way for SkyCity to reopen its Auckland, Hamilton and Queenstown casinos under its updated Health Management System.

For the first few days, SkyCity has effectively established a ‘no riff-raff’ strategy to keep a lid on crowd numbers during reopening madness. For example, SkyCity Premier Rewards Gold, Platinum, and Black members will only be able to enter the Auckland casino until Sunday afternoon, after which all Premier Rewards Members will be allowed in.

SkyCity Hamilton, which is doing about one-tenth of Auckland’s market, is taking a much more egalitarian approach, allowing exclusive access for Platinum and Black members only from midday Thursday to 4 pm, after which the hoi-polloi will be permitted to sully the position with their presence. The Queenstown place, which hardly does any business and can therefore not afford to discriminate, is clearly available from the get-go to all Rewards holders.

SkyCity will encourage new customers to sign up on the spot to gain access to its Rewards programme. In addition to on-site facial recognition technology, the members-only rules are intended to help SkyCity use contact tracing should any person later test positive for COVID-19.

The main gaming floors of Auckland and Hamilton will be segmented into distinct ‘zones’ to ensure that no more than 100 people (guests and staff) are at any one time in a static spot. Slots must be appropriately calibrated to ensure physical distance and the number of players permitted at each gaming table (and no “back betting” permitted) will be set to unspecified limits.

Restaurants will limit group bookings to 10 and under patrons, while on-site bars will remain closed until May 21 in compliance with government guidelines. Hotels will also allow check-in reservations by midday Thursday.

Graeme Stephens, CEO of SkyCity, said both visitors and staff would feel assured that the “comprehensive plan” for the company to keep them safe would prove up to the challenge. Stephens thanked customers for their patience and said the company looked forward to welcoming them back, even if not with open arms, as that is no longer permitted.

Stephens is probably only happy to be able to shift the narrative around SkyCity that had confirmed the imminent layoffs of another 700 workers just the day before. The company cautioned that, once it reopened, it will be “a smaller, domestically focused business” and Tuesday’s announcement is unlikely to forestall those layoffs.