Last week, while the Crimes was distracted with the proposal to ban outdoor smoking at eateries, the ACT Government introduced the Unlawful Gambling Bill in to the Assembly.
The bill aims to consolidate and update the Territory’s gambling laws. So, now you know where to go to confirm whether championship Scrabble is unlawful. Seriously.
The bill proposes to continue the ACT’s hardline approach to the regulation prohibition of poker tournaments in clubs and pubs. Special exemptions apply if you are the Canberra Casino. Or hosting a no-stakes poker party in your own home (true!).
The Treasurer, Katy Gallagher, was quoted saying, “A key consideration has been that introducing these [poker] tournaments into the ACT – even the lower risk, no fee no prize tournaments – has the potential to increase the level of problem gambling in the community either directly or indirectly.”
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A recent Gambling Commission policy review paper is cited in support of the ongoing ban on poker games. The report is wordy but kinda slight. It’s empirical evidence for the poker tournament ban seems to be sourced from the Sydney Morning Herald. And not much else besides.
I’d always understood the hard-line regulation of poker machines as being linked to the highly repetitive nature of contemporary (automated & multi-line) one armed banditry. Unlike the card game. Indeed, the Victorian Premier noted the distinction recently when defending the Victorian Government’s decision to permit Crown Casino to add more gaming tables.
So, what is unique about the way poker is played in the ACT?
Do Canberrans have more impulsive, gullible, or addictive temperaments than other Australians?
Or are we just governed by wowsers and killjoys?
(Disclosure: I do not know how to play poker. My gambling is limited to unskilled wagering on the Melbourne Cup. I want to win the trifecta. I can pursue that pipe dream to my heart’s content, with minimal government intervention. Lucky me.)