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The problem with poker

By 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.)

What’s Your opinion?


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31 Responses to
The problem with poker
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 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 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 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.

p1 1:45 pm 20 Oct 09

clearly a sporting competition involves skill rather than chance an as such wouldn’t be covered.

Since there is definitely a level of skill involved in Poker (otherwise there would be no suck thing as professionals, since I would be just as good), how do they narrow down the difference? There is a lot of chance involved in quite a few sporting events, yet how you handle that to your advantage is how you win.

hjholden 1:12 pm 20 Oct 09

clearly a sporting competition involves skill rather than chance an as such wouldn’t be covered. As for your raffles housebound, they’d be covered by the lotteries act and not the unlawful games act

p1 12:54 pm 20 Oct 09

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?

housebound 12:42 pm 20 Oct 09

There go the chocolate wheels and chook raffles at our local school fete.

anatoli 11:58 am 20 Oct 09

This legislation is actually extremely restrictive, and ends up applying to many, many pursuits that are quite unlike poker, as well as private poker or blackjack games.

The issue is with the change in definition from the previous (current) act. Currently it is only unlawful if money or any valuable thing is staked or risked on an event or contingency. 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?

Also, private games are only exempt if the rules of the game provide the same chance of winning a bet for all participants, which – depending on your interpretation – is not true of poker (at least most variants including hold’em).

Clown Killer 11:29 am 20 Oct 09

I don’t have a problem with this. Poker, in its many forms, appears to be a game favoured by the kind of people who own baseball caps with ‘Jim Beam’ logos and believe that there can be a feasible reason for wearing sunglasses inside. Regulate away I say …

S4anta 11:23 am 20 Oct 09

I am not sure that it is the uniqueness of the way poker is played in the ACT, but more to do with the wider Gaming and business licensing regulations that are in play in the ACT as compared to NSW and Mexico for example.

The business licence, not the gaming regulations could be where the discrepency(sp?)is. Running a pub in NSW or mexico assumes that you COULD shove in gaming machines as part of your business concern, where in the ACT that facility doesn’t exist in the original business licence.

Pub Poker is run in other states in pubs under the fact that techncially the licencee can ‘game/gamble’ in his designated business area, as well as have pokies and other automatic gambling type machines (such as the computer roulette jobbies you see in other states but not ACT, depending upon the relevant gaming authority giving the green light for these machines to fester like fly blown sheep in the suburbs), and not having tp apply for another licence/ticket or have to train and insure his staff to do so.

Which also explains why pub poker is run by franchisees, not publicans.

icantbelieveitsnotbu 10:00 am 20 Oct 09

… think of the money/ investment into our fine city

icantbelieveitsnotbu 9:59 am 20 Oct 09

Poker is a huge multi-billion dollar industry. As a player, the Canberra Casino is crap at running games/tourneys… I say let people (licensed of course) run games around town.

anatoli 9:55 am 20 Oct 09

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.

frontrow 9:45 am 20 Oct 09

I thought this would be obvious. It’s a way to express compassion and empathy for problem gamblers without risking a reduction in poker machine revenue.

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