Any update on Pub Poker in the ACT?

Buzz 29 September 2009 29

Some time ago I was aware that there was an online petition of sorts to lobby for legalisation of social, pub/club poker in the ACT. As far as I am aware, social poker networks such as the National Poker League (NPL) and Australian Poker League (APL) are legal throughout Australia… except in the ACT.

I can’t understand why here, of all places, a relatively harmless social activity is illegal. Further, I can’t understand why the clubs aren’t very interested in supporting this initative. Having visited some venues in NSW and QLD, its obvious that the venues love pub poker on weeknights. I’ve seen pubs that would be lucky to have 10 patrons on a Tuesday night have over 100 turn up to play social poker for no money, just a social league. The pub/club benefits – extra trade, and its great social fun for people to play a card game without having to gamble for real money.

The only poker option in the ACT is the Casino… and unless things have changed in the last six months there are only a few games there and for quite high stakes. Surely the ACT government is actually encouraging irresponsible gambling by forcing the poker public into only one outlet, and a very expensive one as well?

Would love to hear if there has been any progress or an organised lobby to bring social pub poker to the ACT.


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29 Responses to Any update on Pub Poker in the ACT?
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Alancia Alancia 3:59 pm 18 Oct 09

NPL, and to a lesser extent APL, goes off in queanbeyan. I agree, Casino has an unfair monopoly on poker that somehow they managed to get ACT law to enforce. Casino poker sucks.

Buzz Buzz 7:51 pm 02 Oct 09

The difference is that this isn’t a game played at a certain venue in town that likes to have a monopoly on such things.

joshka joshka 2:32 pm 02 Oct 09

It is my opinion that the Brand Depot UNO challenge [1], [2] violates the Unlawful Games Act 1984 as it falls under the definition of an unlawful game:

(f) any other game of skill or chance, or of mixed skill and chance,
in which money or any other valuable thing is staked or risked
on an event or contingency, other than backgammon, bridge,
chess or Scrabble.

The promoter, Brand Depot, are staking Toys-R-Us vouchers gift cards and discount vouchers on the contingency / event of a player having the highest score at the end of three games. This is no different to that of a wager in poker on the contingency / event of a player having the highest hand.

How and why is this competition allowed to continue? What is the position of the ACT Gambling and Racing commission on the offering of such an unlawful game?

[1] http://www.branddepot.com.au/whatson.html
[2] http://www.branddepot.com.au/assets/pdf/uno%20challenge%20terms.pdf

joshka joshka 4:49 pm 30 Sep 09

IANAL either, but my understanding of the Unlawful Games Act 1984 is that even though poker with less than 9 people is not a prescribed game under the regulation for the purposes of examining whether it is unlawful, the Act states that the game may still be unlawful.
(f) any other game of skill or chance, or of mixed skill and chance, in which money or any other valuable thing is staked or risked on an event or contingency, other than backgammon, bridge, chess or Scrabble.

Summary – home games are illegal when cash is involved.

Act: http://www.legislation.act.gov.au/a/1984-21/default.asp
Reg: http://www.legislation.act.gov.au/sl/2007-5/default.asp

Inappropriate Inappropriate 11:49 am 30 Sep 09

MWF said :

So can I be arrested for playing Hold em on the internets?

I’m no lawyer, but I think it’s legal for Australians to play Poker on the ‘net, but illegal for companies to offer Poker (played with real money) to Australians.

MWF MWF 11:38 am 30 Sep 09

So can I be arrested for playing Hold em on the internets?

joshka joshka 11:22 am 30 Sep 09

One of the problems against the Casino’s offering of Poker is that the stakes are too high for casual players. Conventional poker wisdom would have that for good bankroll management you should not buy in for more than 5% of your total bankroll or perhaps 2% for a multi table tourney. So with a minimum buy in at the casino of $2-500, this means that players should have a bankroll of $4-10K before even considering sitting down. Thus, the casino has a monopoly, yet won’t provide games that are appropriate for play except for players with larger bankrolls. It almost sounds as if they’re abusing their monopoly. The GnR commission should address this issue.

Inappropriate Inappropriate 9:50 am 30 Sep 09

Genie said :

Canberra is small.. I don’t have a problem driving 20-30mins to go play poker.

True, but it would be nice to have a few drinks while at the club, and not worry about being over the limit to drive.

Buzz Buzz 7:30 am 30 Sep 09

Genie – Canberra may be small but its big enough for the drive to QBN to present a problem for some for a variety of reasons. That said – appreciate the info an effort on previous lobbying attempts.

The Casino’s attitude is mystifying. Do they genuinely believe pub poker would harm their operation (I guess so!). Last time I looked the casino only ran tournaments with a maximum of 40 seats on a weekly basis. Pub poker would likely generate more interest for them!

This is like the commercial TV networks buying the rights to live sport then deciding to show re-runs of Worlds Worst Drivers Vol 2618576185 and delaying the live telecast. It’s outrageous – the casino has a monopoly that actually makes people gamble for more if they want to play at all.

caf caf 12:18 am 30 Sep 09

Genie: Then why does the Gaming & Racing draft report say this:

Submissions received from the public consultation process provided a mixed view on whether tournament gaming should be permitted outside the casino. ClubsACT and Casino Canberra Ltd both opposed the approval of tournaments, particularly poker, outside of the casino.

Genie Genie 11:38 pm 29 Sep 09

I too helped lobby to get pub poker legalised in the ACT.

Basically the deal is the Casino has the monopoly on Poker in the ACT and nothing is going to change this. We had at least 75% of the ACT Clubs backing, so please stop stating the clubs aren’t interested.

I think just about every loophole was tried and we still failed.

Canberra is small.. I don’t have a problem driving 20-30mins to go play poker.

Wanon Wanon 11:34 pm 29 Sep 09

http://www.legislation.act.gov.au/a/1984-21/default.asp +
http://www.legislation.act.gov.au/sl/2007-5/default.asp

Playing is a maximum penalty of 10 units, where 1 unit is worth $100.

Promoting is the same as being the organiser or operator. Too bad if you wanted to play 9 handed poker!

tl;dr Social poker at home is fine with less than 9 players. More than 8 it becomes illegal.

Chop71 Chop71 8:36 pm 29 Sep 09

More Canberra red tape and the rules police telling us what we can and can’t do.

Hells_Bells74 Hells_Bells74 5:55 pm 29 Sep 09

Ouch! Got them by the balls then!

Ridiculous to me.

heinous heinous 5:43 pm 29 Sep 09

I would have though that the Labor party would be enthusiastic about getting tournament poker in the ACT as they receive funding from The Tradies clubs. If tournament poker was permitted then more people would visit their clubs and they would therefore receive more income.

Inappropriate Inappropriate 5:37 pm 29 Sep 09

Hells_Bells74 said :

The casino can’t have pokies, the (pokie) clubs can’t have poker! Sounds almost equal..

Could the clubs treat it like a ‘trivia night’ to get around it at all or is it the game in question as opposed to the gambling factor (which is pretty small in social tournaments I thought)?

Perhaps it’s just all too hard for them!

Tis the game in question. You cannot even hold charity events.

Hells_Bells74 Hells_Bells74 4:22 pm 29 Sep 09

The casino can’t have pokies, the (pokie) clubs can’t have poker! Sounds almost equal..

Could the clubs treat it like a ‘trivia night’ to get around it at all or is it the game in question as opposed to the gambling factor (which is pretty small in social tournaments I thought)?

Perhaps it’s just all too hard for them!

Inappropriate Inappropriate 1:41 pm 29 Sep 09

caf said :

Well the alternative to getting rid of pokies would be to simply say that a club can hold poker tournaments, but only if they don’t have poker machine licenses. That way it would be up to each club to choose.

I don’t think the argument that tournaments encourage more people to play the pokies can hold much water – if you’re a poker player then you have a better than usual understanding of probability, so you’re not going to throw a lot of money away on the pokies…

Those people who are inclined to play pokies, will play them while they’re on a break from the tournament, or they’re waiting for another tournament to start up.

And yes, I know it’ll be a cold-cold day in hell before a club gives up its pokies.

caf caf 12:53 pm 29 Sep 09

It’s pretty clear that the Gaming and Racing Commission has an anti-poker agenda, when you see this in their report when it’s describing tournaments:

Prizes may be on offer at each event and may consist of cash, cash equivalent (free entry to higher level events) or merchandise such as that at a Geelong club where the Saturday night tournament winner receives a voucher for a 30 minute pleasure session at a local brothel.

The distasteful example they’ve scoured the country to find is completely unrepresentative of the prizes at poker tournaments, and clearly calculated to give the worst possible impression of poker and poker players.

Buzz Buzz 12:49 pm 29 Sep 09

Interesting views all. I still don’t understand why the clubs don’t lobby in favour, surely its in their interest to attract more patrons.

I appreciate we in the ACT can play at Eaglehawk or in QBN, but thats a long way to go compared to just down the road to the “local”.

So frustrating.

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