The problem with poker

moneypenny2612 20 October 2009 31

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.”

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.)


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31 Responses to The problem with poker
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djk djk 10:16 am 22 Oct 09

p1 said :

If I online gamble from home in the ACT using a interstate bookie, am I gambling in the ACT?

No, that is the other state’s problem. This is specifically covered in the explanatory statement for the bill, although it mentions betting rather than gambling.

moneypenny2612 said :

The feds give in to the racing industry, the casino industry, the TV industry, the phone industry, and everything in between. I don’t know if anyone has ever been prosecuted for running or advertising a prohibited interactive gambling service (Betfair advertises on TV?). If somebody has been pinged by the feds, they must be really unlucky (or unskilled?).

Moneypenny, I believe Betfair is licenced in Tasmania or something for sports betting, and Aussies are not allowed to play on their poker site, which would be how they get around being prosecuted.

moneypenny2612 moneypenny2612 8:21 pm 21 Oct 09

@#23 & @#24

Online gambling is regulated by the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (Cth).

With all its exemptions, I think it is probably the most useless piece of legislation on the Commonwealth statute books. Check it out.

The feds give in to the racing industry, the casino industry, the TV industry, the phone industry, and everything in between. I don’t know if anyone has ever been prosecuted for running or advertising a prohibited interactive gambling service (Betfair advertises on TV?). If somebody has been pinged by the feds, they must be really unlucky (or unskilled?).

heinous heinous 6:20 pm 21 Oct 09

So why are some games that combine both skill & luck (eg Bridge, Scrabble) exempt, and not a game like Poker?

Because in the eyes of the Assembly, Bridge and Scrabble attract refined people where Poker attracts a scumbag class of people who need to be socially controlled by the elite.

papadoc papadoc 6:18 pm 21 Oct 09

Don’t even get me started on this rag the Government have put together. If poker attracts people to clubs to gamble, why not outlaw beer or snooker? the Casino is starting to do a much better job, but only if you’re prepared to outlay a minimum of $110 per tournament. Pub Poker games are usually $10-$20 at worst.

Absolute joke.

Hells_Bells74 Hells_Bells74 5:21 pm 21 Oct 09

If Blackjack, Roulette & poker etc are unlawful, then just how does a casino get the legal green light? How is it different, you don’t get to gamble responsively in a casino, what’s their caper?

frontrow frontrow 4:39 pm 21 Oct 09

djk,

I think you will find the answer to your question @23 can be found within ck’s post @6. We’re not that egalitarian around here.

caf caf 3:33 pm 21 Oct 09

So why are some games that combine both skill & luck (eg Bridge, Scrabble) exempt, and not a game like Poker?

Pure handwaving and woolly thinking, fuelled by unfair prejudice, and nothing more.

p1 p1 2:42 pm 21 Oct 09

Also I skimmed but couldnt see anything, was there a mention of online gambling?

If I online gamble from home in the ACT using a interstate bookie, am I gambling in the ACT?

djk djk 1:37 pm 21 Oct 09

So why are some games that combine both skill & luck (eg Bridge, Scrabble) exempt, and not a game like Poker?

Also I skimmed but couldnt see anything, was there a mention of online gambling?

S4anta S4anta 12:47 pm 21 Oct 09

cranky said :

Guess thats the end of horse racing.

Seems total overkill when the objective seems to be to drive all the problem gamblers into the clubs and their pokies.

Oh, does the Labor Party own clubs? With pokies? Might explain a lot.

Never seen a horse race in a pub. Sounds bloody brilliant however.

anatoli anatoli 9:36 am 21 Oct 09

Both the Unlawful Games Act 1984 and the Unlawful Games Regulation 2007 are repealed by the Unlawful Gambling Bill 2009 (section 51).

cranky cranky 7:47 pm 20 Oct 09

Guess thats the end of horse racing.

Seems total overkill when the objective seems to be to drive all the problem gamblers into the clubs and their pokies.

Oh, does the Labor Party own clubs? With pokies? Might explain a lot.

Wanon Wanon 7:06 pm 20 Oct 09

The Unlawful Games Regulation 2007 also applies along with Unlawful Games Act 1984

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

Wanon Wanon 7:01 pm 20 Oct 09

anatoli said :

As far as I can tell, pretty much anything which involves an entry fee, one or more prizes, and an element of luck (including championship scrabble and several games which I play) is unlawful.

Pertinent bits (from part 2):

7 Meaning of unlawful game
(1) In this Act:
unlawful game—
(a) means—
(i) a game of chance, or of mixed chance and skill, in which
money or any other valuable thing is offered as a prize or
is staked or risked (by a participant or someone else) on
an event or contingency; or
(ii) a game declared by the commission under subsection (2);
(2) The commission may declare a game to be an unlawful game.

8 Meaning of unlawful gambling
In this Act:
unlawful gambling means—
(a) the playing or conduct of an unlawful game; or
(b) unlawful betting.

9 Meaning of exempt game
(1) In this Act:
exempt game means any of the following:
(a) a game that is authorised under another territory law;
(b) an exempt private game;
(c) a game conducted in accordance with an approval under part 3;
(d) an exempt two-up game;
(e) a game declared by the commission under subsection (2).
(2) The commission may declare a game to be an exempt game.

So as far as I can tell, what I have said above is correct unless there is another territory law authorising a particular game or if the commission declares a game exempt.

The definition of exempt game is found in the Unlawful Games Act 1984 and can be found here:
http://www.legislation.act.gov.au/a/1984-21/default.asp

unlawful game means—
(a) any of the games commonly known as baccarat, blackjack,
craps, fantan, manila, pak-a-pu, pitch and toss, puntobanco,
roulette, thimble-rig or two-up; or
(b) any game similar to a game specified in paragraph (a); or
(c) a lottery, other than an approved lottery or an exempt lottery
within the meaning of the Lotteries Act 1964; or
(d) a pool betting competition conducted otherwise than under and
in accordance with an approved pool betting scheme within the
meaning of the Pool Betting Act 1964; or
(e) a prescribed game; or
(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.

heinous heinous 6:15 pm 20 Oct 09

Is Bridge legal? It is a card game that involves chance. Tournaments are run in Canberra that require an entrance fee and pay cash prizes. People like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet play Bridge and it would be good to attract people like this in Canberra.

Chop71 Chop71 4:36 pm 20 Oct 09

let the kiddies play online and have your credit card debt going overseas.

anatoli anatoli 3:45 pm 20 Oct 09

All sports I can think of involve an element of chance introduced by the environment in which they are played, e.g. outdoor sports are subject to changes in wind/weather which it would be hard to argue against being an element of chance.

Under 12 touch footy comps are safe as long as they don’t offer money or “any other valuable thing” as a prize for winning.

My social squash comp is in trouble – the winners of each group and the end of a comp get given towels and drink bottles as prizes. And anyone who has played squash knows that there is an element of chance involved 😉

p1 p1 2:30 pm 20 Oct 09

Only games with an element of chance are unlawful.

Well then, cricket’s out, ’cause they toss a coin to see who bats.

Inappropriate Inappropriate 1:51 pm 20 Oct 09

But games like Scrabble, Monopoly, Warhammer, etc are all evil because they have an element of chance, and so promote gambling.

Inappropriate Inappropriate 1:46 pm 20 Oct 09

p1 said :

This act will make it unlawful to offer money or any valuable thing as a prize in a game which involves an element of chance. Are local sporting events where a prize is awarded to the winner unlawful under this act?

This is exactly what I have been wondering. Can someone who has the time to read through it check if this law makes under twelves touch football comps illegal dens of sin?

Only games with an element of chance are unlawful.

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