Ahearne will leave the business in March 2024 to return to Europe and spend more time with his family. He has served as CEO of SkyCity since November 2020 having previously been chief operating officer.
Experienced Ahearne joined SkyCity in December 2017 after almost four years with Paddy Power Betfair. Here, he held a number of roles including director of product and innovation.
Prior to this, Ahearne was COO for the Australian and New Zealand region at Aristocrat. He also spent 10 years with Star Entertainment Group, serving in senior roles including chief operating officer for gaming and general manager for finance.
SkyCity has already launched a process to identify a replacement. The business says it will update the market once an appointment has been made.
“Michael has led the business through a very complex and demanding period,” SkyCity chair Julian Cook said. “This has included dealing with the significant fire at the New Zealand International Convention Centre and rebuild, navigating the business through Covid-19 and the recovery, and responding to regulatory matters related to the SkyCity Adelaide business.
“Michael has also led significant investment and improvements in SkyCity’s compliance functions.
“He has worked hard to set a strong platform for the business going forward and has been tireless in seeking to do the right thing for SkyCity. On behalf of myself and the SkyCity board, I would like to thank Michael for his leadership, commitment and dedication through his time with SkyCity.”
Troubling time for SkyCity
Ahearne’s departure comes towards the end of what has been a turbulent year for the SkyCity business.
The year began shortly after Australia’s Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (Austrac) launched federal proceedings against SkyCity. This was in relation to anti-money laundering (AML) failings at SkyCity Adelaide.
In May, SkyCity launched a review into its counter-terrorist financing and AML programmes as ordered by Consumer and Business Services, the gaming regulator for South Australia. SkyCity in August also noted that it had made a provision of AU$45m ahead of an assumed civil penalty from Austrac.
Then, last month, New Zealand’s secretary of the department of internal affairs applied to suspend SkyCity’s casino licence for an estimated 10 days. This concerned subsidiary SkyCity Casino Management Limited, which controls SkyCity’s operator licence for the SkyCity Auckland, SkyCity Hamilton and SkyCity Queenstown locations in New Zealand.