Playing some poker with friends has become a rite of passage for many players around the world. But one Australian state recently banned home games as well as poker clubs and leagues, making casino games the only option for players.
Tasmania, located off the southeast coast of the Australian mainland, made news last week after announcing the move via regulation from the Tasmanian Liquor and Gaming Commission (TLGC).
“Unfortunately, the TPL (Tasmanian Poker League) have been advised that the TLGC have changed their guidelines on free pub poker,” TPL representative Martin Garland noted on the group’s Facebook page. “I have a meeting with our legal representative tomorrow to see if I can still run the leaderboard game this Saturday. I will let you all know as soon as possible the result of this meeting. As you would all appreciate, I cannot put myself in a position where I am breaking the law. I have always been upfront and honest with everyone, sadly we are in for a fight this time.”
Beyond free-to-play leagues like the TPL, other home games have also been affected. Craig Abernethy, founder of the Australian Poker Schedule website, told Casino.org that Tasmania no longer allows events that require a cash buy-in unless the event is run by a casino.
“Only a licensed casino operator can run a poker game or tournament that involves wagering of money or anything of value,” the TLGC noted in clarifying the ruling Poker Games in Tasmania Fact Sheet – Current August 2023.pdf. “This includes running an event where an entry fee is charged and prizes are won. Running such an event without a license is illegal.
“Poker games or tournaments involving prizes can legally be operated providing that no fee or cost to participate is charged to play, and no money (or anything of value) is wagered by players.”
The move makes the state, which has a population of about 540,000, the only Australian state that has banned these types of games, leaving players feeling frustrated.
“Poker is a game that anyone can and does play and compete at, from seniors, the deaf and hard of hearing community, people with a disability, male, female, young, old, it doesn’t discriminate,” Abernethy told Casino.org.
Another Australia Poker Hurdle
While Australia boasts an active live poker scene including hosting World Poker Tour events, this isn’t the first issue the country’s players have faced.
In 2017, the federal government completely banned online poker. The 2016 Internet Gambling Amendment Bill shut down the online game despite online poker operating in Australia since 2001.
Any operator violating the law faced a fine of up to $6.75 million a day. The bill technically allowed for operators to offer action to Australian players if licensed by the government. However, the law and government offer no licensing or regulatory process to make that happen.