CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
SkyCity Entertainment Group
POWER SCORE: 735
POSITION LAST YEAR: Nil
CLAIMS TO FAME
- Former executive at The Star Sydney and slot giant Aristocrat
- Has driven the company’s digital gaming arm
THE SUDDEN DEPARTURE of three senior executives saw Michael Ahearne thrust into the top job at New Zealand’s SkyCity Entertainment Group last November, and he hasn’t had much time to ease into his new role.
Coming in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, much of his early tenure has been spent navigating property closures, which have impacted all three of Skycity’s New Zealand casinos in Auckland, Queenstown and Hamilton plus its sole Australian resort in Adelaide.
At time of writing, two of those were still closed, SkyCity Auckland and SkyCity Hamilton, with the flagship Auckland IR having been shuttered since 18 August. But there were enough positives to come out of the company’s FY21 financial results – with a profit of NZ$156 million (US$109 million) – for Ahearne to feel confident in what the future holds.
SkyCity’s results were driven by its strong domestic market, and it is this market that holds the key given the decision in April to cease working with international junkets following the Crown Resorts debacle in neighboring Australia. The company has also seen solid growth in its online gaming business, SkyCity Online Casino, with the number of active customers increasing from 24,400 in mid-February to 38,000 in April and 45,000 as of 30 June 2021.
It was Ahearne himself who oversaw the establishment of SkyCity Online in 2019 in his role as Chief Operating Officer. He first joined the company two years earlier, bringing with him extensive experience in both land-based and online gaming operations. He held a number of senior commercial, operational and product leadership roles at UK giant Paddy Power Betfair, served as COO for Aristocrat in Australia and New Zealand and held several senior management positions at The Star Sydney.
For the full list of 2021 Asian Gaming Power 50 winners, click here.