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UMR research director, ex-Goff confidante named SkyCity spokesman

Monday 30th July 2012

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UMR Research director and Phil Goff's ex-chief of staff Gordon Jon Thompson has been appointed SkyCity Entertainment's head cheerleader as the casino operator looks to ride out skepticism of its offer to build a $350 million convention centre in the heart of Auckland city.

His appointment as general manager of coporate communications comes as the casino operator courts controversy with its offer to build a convention centre in Auckland in exchange for more pokie machines, something the Labour Party has been deeply critical of. Thompson joined UMR, which does the Labour Party's polling, after Goff's failed attempt to win the Treasury benches last year.

"We are delighted to make this senior appointment and I am confident he will make a significant contribution to SkyCity," chief executive Nigel Morrison said in a statement.

Thompson will report directly to Morrison.

Last month, deputy auditor-general Philippa Smith agreed to investigate the government's tender process for the convention centre, which was deemed the best option by the Ministry of Economic Development.

The government's decision to pursue a deal with SkyCity led to an outcry from anti-gambling advocates, who said an increase in slot machines would harm the poor and vulnerable. Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei sought an investigation from the Auditor-General in April this year.

Shares in SkyCity rose 0.6 percent to $3.57 in trading today and have gained 3.2 percent this year.

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