NZealand city gets convention center, more gaming

New Zealand's largest city adding international convention center in deal with casino operator

Associated Press

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) -- New Zealand's largest city is getting an international convention center in a deal critics say will come at the cost of increased problem-gambling.

Casino operator SkyCity signed an agreement with the government on Monday to build a 402 million New Zealand dollar ($333 million) convention center in central Auckland.

In exchange, SkyCity will get its Auckland casino license extended and will add 230 slot machines and 40 gaming tables.

The government was eager for a private company to build a convention center in order to boost tourism. SkyCity and other companies argued it wasn't commercially viable without some kind of subsidy or deal.

Lawmakers are expected to approve the deal. The opposition Labour Party describes it as "reckless."

The convention center will open in 2017 and cater to 3,500 people.

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