Editorial - SkyCity sees the light

Last updated 08:00 21/06/2012

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All publicity is good publicity, they say, but SkyCity doubtless prefers to avoid anything that sullies its reputation. To the contrary, a few weeks ago it was reported to be paying big bucks for the services and star power of some of the country's biggest celebrity names to help buff its image.

The company has many sound reasons for wanting to be viewed as a good corporate citizen. Most obviously, there is a moral dimension. Its business is gambling and much of its profit comes from people who lose their money at its card tables or by feeding its pokie machines. Most of its customers no doubt enjoy their night out, but a few are problem gamblers, desperate enough to steal to feed their habit.

A mother of two was jailed this week for stealing more than $330,000 from her employer to pour into the SkyCity pokie machines. The Department of Internal Affairs has raised concerns over similar cases.

Another good reason for SkyCity to eschew bad publicity is its involvement in controversial negotiations with the Government to build and run a national convention centre in Auckland. The tradeoff is that a law would be passed to allow up to 500 more pokie machines at its casino.

Opponents of this deal accuse the Government of "selling legislation" in return for the $350 million Auckland convention centre. They also question the role played by Prime Minister John Key and Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce in the tender process. Auditor-general Lyn Provost is investigating to ensure the process has been fair.

Regardless of Ms Provost giving the deal a clean bill of health, opposition to it is formidable. Casino bosses were well advised, therefore, to head off a public-relations disaster stemming from Unite union claims that staffer Tuni Parata faced a disciplinary hearing for carrying a pocket Bible. Company policy, it seems, bars staff from carrying personal items such as mobile phones, iPods and Bibles when on the job – anything that might distract staff from their duties.

In the upshot, the company has rebutted union claims that Ms Parata would be sacked. A way would be found to allow her to keep her Bible nearby at work. It was too late to escape critical media comment, but on this matter, anyway, the company has seen the light.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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