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Auckland Council gives thumbs down to SkyCity deal

Published: 6:37PM Thursday June 27, 2013 Source: ONE News

Auckland Council has taken an official stand on the Government-SkyCity deal, voting 10 to seven against it.

The deal sees SkyCity getting an extra 230 slot machines and 40 gaming tables in return for it building a $402 million international convention centre in New Zealand's biggest city. The Government is also willing to offer a 27-year extension to SkyCity's Auckland casino licence.

Final sign-off on the deal is expected in the next few days.

Councillors object because they feel the social impact from problem gambling will be too high.

Councillor Cathy Casey wanted to know if councillors thought the deal was morally correct.

She said the majority of the council has sent a very strong message to the Government that this deal is wrong.

Their opposition will be conveyed to the Government, but realistically will not have any impact on the deal going ahead.

Both parties agreed to extend the deadline to reach a final agreement until the end of the month, after initially setting a June 14 deadline in last month's heads of agreement, Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said when the original deadline expired.

Construction of the convention centre is scheduled to start in 2014 with completion in 2017.

The deal and its negotiations raised ire from problem gaming groups and opposition MPs, who called in the Auditor-General to look at the process.

While the final decision of the Government to negotiate with SkyCity passed muster with the Auditor-General's investigation, the process was deemed to be sloppy, with the casino operator treated differently from rival bidders.

- With Newstalk ZB and BusinessDesk