Christchurch Casino 'sidesteps' new law

NICOLE MATHEWSON
Last updated 05:00 26/06/2013

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Christchurch Casino's new live music and function venue could potentially be open 24 hours a day by sidestepping proposed new alcohol laws.

The underground venue has been granted resource consent by the city council and under the Gambling Act 2003 it could use its existing liquor licence to serve alcohol any time it was allowed to be open for gambling.

Under the council's proposed local alcohol policy (LAP), most bars would have to close at 1am, with only bars in a small central- city zone able to stay open until 3am, but the casino was allowed to stay open at all times except Christmas Day, Good Friday and between 3am and 1pm on Anzac Day.

Casino chief executive Brett Anderson said the casino supported having nearby bars open until 3am and had joined the Victoria Street Precinct Accord to help advocate the later closing times.

"Good operators need to be given the opportunity to operate," he said.

Since reopening after the February 2011 earthquake, the casino had only been open 24 hours on weekends, closing at 3am on weeknights and reopening at 11am because of a "lack of tourists, hotels and convention centre" in the city, Anderson said.

Casino food and beverage manager Blair McIntyre said while the opening hours were unlikely to change without more people in the city centre, the new function centre would cater to demand from a "younger demographic" who wanted somewhere to dance and be entertained.

The venue would create at least 30 jobs for hospitality, security and housekeeping staff and was on track for an early October opening.

It had already attracted bookings for "well into next year", including a fashion show, gala dinners and fundraising events.

McIntyre said the venue's name and theme had been chosen, but were being kept under wraps for now, with not even Anderson aware of what had been chosen yet.

"It'll be a fun space and a little bit different from what we've seen in Christchurch before."

The venue would be restricted to those aged 20 and over when operating as a night-late live music venue, but could be open to all ages for functions.

Council acting building operations manager Steve McCarthy said the casino's building consent application was still being reviewed, but was "well through" the process.

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- The Press

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