New Zealand's SkyCity to launch first online casino with GiG

21 May 2019

New Zealand gaming and entertainment giant SkyCity Entertainment Group, is set to make its online casino debut later this year after partnering with Gaming Innovation Group (GiG).

Under the terms of the deal, GiG will deliver a turnkey online casino solution including a technical platform, fully managed services, gaming content, front end development, CRM, compliance and marketing.

SkyCity’s new online casino is set to go live in Q3 2019 and will operated under GiG’s Malta licence.

Graeme Stephens, chief executive of SkyCity, said the move into online was significant for the group, which operates four of New Zealand’s six land-based casinos.

“Growing and diversifying our earnings is a key component of our group strategic plan and developing an online presence to complement our existing land-based casinos in New Zealand will enable us to offer an enhanced gaming proposition for customers,” he said.

“GiG is an exciting and innovative technology company with best-in-class teams, systems, platforms and products and importantly share our focus on responsible gaming and host responsibility.”

“With this landmark deal, we are entering a completely new continent where we can build on our ambition as the global partner for strong brands in iGaming," the company's chief executive Robin Reed said.

“We look forward to supporting SkyCity in its expansion into the online space, where our full suite of products and solutions all form part of a very competitive offering to its online customers.

“New Zealand is preparing for the regulation of online casino gambling and we are there to support our partner further when it happens.”

GiG does not expect the SkyCity deal to have a material impact on its revenues this year, but expects a significant contribution from 2020 onwards.

SkyCity first revealed plans to enter the online gaming market in February this year, when it published its results for the first half of its 2018-19 financial year. It said at the time that the platform would be located offshore initially, while the New Zealand government made decisions on whether to launch a regulatory framework for the channel, something the operator said it "strongly supported".

However it seems unlikely that the government will move ahead with these plans. Last month it announced a series of reforms to revitalise the New Zealand horse racing industry, including a point of consumption tax for offshore operators and race field fees. It expressly ruled out introducing a licensing regime for horse racing and sports betting, which it said would infringe on the New Zealand Racing Board's statutory monopoly.

GiG already powers an online casino and sportsbook for one of the US’s most prominent gaming brands, Hard Rock Casino, which went live in New Jersey last year.

Earlier this month, Nasdaq Stockholm-listed GiG cited the impact of new regulations in the Swedish market as the main reason behind a year-on-year decline in revenue in the first quarter. Revenue for the three months through to March 31, 2019, amounted to €32.4m (£27.8m/$36.2m), compared to €37.3m in the corresponding period last year.