SkyCity, a casino operator from New Zealand’s Entertainment Group has unveiled its Malta-licensed online gambling website. On the other hand, the government made claims that SkyCity’s physical operations may unknowingly have been used to facilitate money laundering.
On Thursday, SkyCity Malta, a subsidiary of SkyCity, publicized the start of its website skycitycasino.com. The website is powered by MT SecureTrade Ltd, a branch of Gaming Innovation Group (GIG).
The website features a mix of RNG casino games and live gaming (courtesy of Evolution Gaming). In addition, it also has hundreds of virtual sports and slots. They don’t have a mobile app yet but the web app encourages customers to add the website to their home page while using the mobile app.
At this time, the online casino is restricted to players who are physically situated in New Zealand and are above 20 years. They are required to provide a passport or a local driver’s license. Attempts to access the website from outside the shores of the country led to a message that said the website is not yet accessible to other territories.
The website maintains their stance that they’re not connected to the physical SkyCity casino operations based in New Zealand. Although they’re part of the same group of companies they both operate independently. This means that any balance accrued in the physical casino account cannot be moved to the online casino and vice versa.
SkyCity publicized its new deal with GIG at the start of the year. They also noted that it is legal for citizens of New Zealand to access their services especially the internationally licensed online betting websites. The firm said they located their website overseas
“while the New Zealand government made decisions on regulation of the sector within the country.”
The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) in New Zealand, last week launched a public discussion on how they would tackle the problem of online gambling. The discussions offered 4 options on ways the government may carry out this task.
This ranged from the present situation on ground – which is to maintain betting locally and limiting the range of online products by lottery cartels – to a decentralized market that would give licenses to international online operators.
MONEY LAUNDERING WORRIES
This week, Mike Stone, the director of DIA’s anti-money laundering (AML) unit publicly suggested that SkyCity’s casinos may unwittingly be used for money laundering by international lawbreakers. Mike Stone said there no doubt that crooks like this
“would target New Zealand casinos to launder their money, capitalizing on the country’s good business reputation.”
In response to Director Stone’s comment, SkyCity said
“obliged to have strict anti-money laundering programs in place and that the company reports a variety of transactions to the police to assist in combating financial crime.”
In 2014, some high-rollers in SkyCity were part of the criminals caught in a sting operation by New Zealand police that targeted a meth smuggling ring. Police convicted one of these people on drug related charges. After the bust, SkyCity said they were very extremely comfortable that they had done all they could to observe their AML responsibilities.