New Zealand casino operator SkyCity Entertainment Group has had a mixed bag of news to report with its flourishing iGaming business contrasting sharply with losses taken over the first half of its financial year as a result of land-based closures.
The first month of SkyCity’s 2021-22 financial year, July 2021, saw online revenue come in at just below $3 million, a 30% improvement, year-on-year.
This revenue then increased to $4.0m in August, breaking all previous records, as New Zealand returned to national lockdowns to combat the spread of Covid-19. As a result, SkyCity’s Auckland and Hamilton properties had to close, with the casino and entertainment facilities at its Queenstown venue being momentarily restricted.
Online gross revenue experienced even more growth during September, rising to over $5 million thanks to a reported 11 000 weekly active customers over the month, even though lockdown measures were eased before the end of September. October saw another return to lockdowns and a decrease in revenue to $4.1m.
All of the figures mentioned far exceed pre-pandemic levels. SkyCity’s online casino revenue only reached $500 000 in March 2021, a slow progression for a service that was launched in August 2019.
SkyCity advised that it views online casino as a vital growth sector and it estimates that the New Zealand market will generate $300 million in annual revenues at maturity. The operator added that licensed operators would be able to compete better if offshore sites were dealt with more aggressively by authorities.
The Other Side of the Coin
The operator’s online success was, however, insufficient to balance out the losses caused by lockdowns of SkyCity’s land-based operations. The firm stopped short of revealing its figures but did state that its earnings for the first half of the financial year, ended 31 December, were “materially impacted by difficult trading conditions”.
The company further noted that following the reopening of SkyCity Queenstown and Adelaide, business was slow to return to anything resembling pre-pandemic levels, partially due to imposed operational restrictions.
SkyCity’s chair, Rob Campbel, advised in October that he would be stepping down from his position sometime in early 2022. The firm has advised that it had not yet initiated the process of finding a replacement and did not share any information on when it expects to announce the next person to fill the role.