New Zealand city gets convention center, more gaming

AUCKLAND (AP) - New Zealand's largest city is getting an international convention centre 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 NZ$402 million (S$413 million) convention centre 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 centre 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 centre will open in 2017 and cater to 3,500 people.

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