COVID-19: SkyCity Auckland casino guest outraged after being forced to join rewards programme

A visitor to SkyCity Auckland has accused the company of attempting to "grow its membership" by requiring guests to register to its loyalty programme as a contact tracing measure. 

Speaking to Newshub the man, who did not want to be named, said he was asked to sign up for SkyCity's rewards programme when he visited the casino on Tuesday. He claims he was not allowed to access the gaming floor unless he registered as a member.

"At the entrance to the gaming floor I was asked if I was a SkyCity member. I replied no and was told it was policy to go to the entrance to sign up as a member to gain entry," he explained to Newshub in an email.

He argued that he was more than happy to scan a QR code poster linked to the Government's official contact tracing app, the NZ COVID Tracer. Scanning QR codes allows Kiwis to keep a record of their movements, in case an infectious person visits a public space or in the event of a future outbreak. 

QR code posters are mandatory across all businesses nationwide to aid contact tracing efforts.

"I told them I don’t want to become a member, and asked to scan their QR code using the Government app," he told Newshub.

An employee informed him that SkyCity's policy is to collect contact details through their membership registration process and he would be denied entry unless he signed up to their rewards programme. He conceded and was taken to the lobby to register.

"I advised the sign-up person that I am happy to provide them with my ID and contact details, however I do not want to become a member and that my preference was to scan a QR code for entry," he explained. "Again I was denied entry unless [I became] a member."

He  was asked to provide ID, sign paperwork and was photographed as part of the registration process.

According to the company's official website, signing up to the SkyCity Premier Rewards Programme is a free and "easy" process that gives members access to exclusive draws, competitions and food and beverage offers at the Auckland site. Members can earn Premier Points and redeem them for rewards.

He told Newshub he believes SkyCity is using mandatory registration for guests upon entry as a way to expand their membership.

"My conclusion is that they are using contract tracing as an excuse to grow their membership database," he said.

A SkyCity Casino staff member told Newshub the site does have a QR code on display, and all guests are required to scan the poster and register for the Premier Rewards Programme as an additional contact tracing measure before being allowed entry.

SkyCity Auckland Casino.
SkyCity Auckland Casino. Photo credit: File

But the man Newshub spoke to says he was never asked to scan a QR code.

"I was told that they are not required to display a QR code as their policy is to get contact details through their membership sign up process," he claimed.

A Ministry of Health spokesperson confirmed that under alert level 2, businesses must operate with a mandatory QR code poster and an alternative contact tracing system in place.

In a statement, a SkyCity spokeswoman said the process is "not about driving membership" and instead works to limit the number of guests on the premises.

"Upon reopening at alert level 2 on Monday, August 31, SkyCity has restricted entry to our Auckland casino to SkyCity Premier Rewards customers only," the spokeswoman said.

"This process is not about driving membership nor encouraging gambling, it is about limiting customer numbers and leveraging our best in class technologies to protect our staff and customers from the potential spread of COVID-19.

"We are ensuring we can provide the most comprehensive contact tracing information we can to support the Ministry of Health should it be required."

She also confirmed SkyCity has 41 registered QR codes linked to the NZ COVID Tracer app.

The COVID-19 All of Government Response has been contacted for comment.