Image: SkyCity Entertainment Group

SkyCity Entertainment Group has reiterated a pledge of enhancing its anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing capabilities, as the casino and entertainment operator reflects on its performance for the year ending June 30, 2023.

As the group stresses its online ambitions and cautious optimism for the year ahead, compliance commitments have been highlighted amid an ongoing AUSTRAC investigation.

This has seen SkyCity factor in an approximately A$90m financial hit that could stem from the ongoing civil penalty proceedings. 

Earlier in the year, a penalty of A$450m was imposed on Crown Resorts by the financial watchdog, with an investigation into Star Entertainment currently being undertaken.

“The increased allocation we have made in resources to continuous improvement in our compliance standards underscores SkyCity’s commitment to caring for our customers and our communities and ensuring everyone has a safe experience at SkyCity,” CEO Michael Ahearne commented.

“We have also recently created the role of Chief Risk Officer, reporting to the CEO, to lead the risk and compliance function.” 

Across a year that saw NZ$5.3m in grants be approved by SkyCity to 122 community organisations, normalised revenue witnessed an uptick of 53.1 per cent to NZ$966.7m.

Further headline figures saw normalised EBITDA increase 125 per cent to NZ$310.3m, while net profit after tax more than doubled to close the year out with a figure of NZ$138.8m.

This, it was said, was due to a strong performance across the company’s home market of New Zealand despite a “high inflation environment”.

Growth in electronic gaming machine revenues and rebound in non-gaming also offset the anticipated impacts of the aforementioned AUSTRAC investigation.

With it noted that current levels are now ahead of the pre-COVID period, Ahearne continued: “We are pleased to have a full year of no interruptions which has meant SkyCity has rebounded strongly. 

“It is a real credit to our entire team who have responded fantastically to the challenges and the complexities of the last few years to deliver a year where we are now ahead of pre-COVID levels. 

“The backbone of our business is our team who have been incredible this year – I want to acknowledge and thank them for their hard work. 

“I also want to thank our loyal customers who have continued to enjoy our precincts and we are excited about what we can offer them in the coming year.” 

“The company credits robust performances within domestic gaming, hotels, food and beverage, attractions and the resurgence of international tourism in Auckland for the upswing.”

Looking ahead, the SkyCity CEO noted that the company is “cautiously optimistic about the outlook for the coming year”, with a fresh operating model designed to offer additional flexibility to adapt to changing operating climates. 

With this in mind, Ahearne reserved space in his address to elaborate of the group’s online aspirations.

“The regulation of online casino gambling is something that SkyCity continues to be strongly supportive of as the market continues to grow,” he said. 

“Currently, offshore online gambling operators are not required to abide by base-level harm minimisation standards or to protect New Zealanders from harm.

“Regulation will also ensure online gambling providers pay their fair share of taxes and community contributions for the benefit of Kiwis rather than benefiting offshore markets which is what is currently happening.”