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Game of Bluff Over New Zealand Casino

5 Jan 2004

NEW ZEALAND – As reported by the New Zealand Stuff:"…Spend five minutes sitting in the foyer of the Christchurch Casino and you soon realise the place is a goldmine.

"The casino, which celebrates its 10th anniversary next year, is awash with gamblers willing to take a punt on beating the house.

"Christchurch Casinos Ltd chairman Barry Thomas fought long and hard to get what was the first casino built in New Zealand and would dearly love to increase his 41 per cent stake by buying out his main partner Aspinall, the British gambling house.

"…Aspinall appears to have done something unforgivable – it has been talking with the opposition in the form of Sky City Entertainment.

"Mr Thomas's reaction has to been to fight back with an assault on all fronts.

"First he had Aspinall's man Arthur Pitcher, the impeccably polite Englishman who has run the casino since it opened, removed from the board of directors.

"…Aspinall claims Mr Pitcher's removal from the board was illegal and has threatened to take out an injunction to get him reinstated.

"..Mr Thomas is a business brawler in the best traditions and is communicating by carefully worded releases. He has accused Sky City of aggressively and covertly trying to muscle its way into the casino, painting the Aucklanders as the dominant player trying to squeeze out the opposition.

"…Mr Thomas has been at pains to point out that if Sky buys out Aspinall's New Zealand interests, the company would have stakes in five of the six casinos…"

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