Poker in Pubs Under Fire In South Australia

Published Wednesday, May 20, 2009 -

The future of pub poker leagues may be under threat in South Australia. This report from Adelaide Australia's The Advertiser reported that the Australian Hotels Association has warned pubs that they are potentially challenging gambling laws by running "cash buy in" poker games. While many operators run "free" poker games, players can add to their chips by buying drinks and food.

Major local tournaments and increased television exposure of the events have made cash entry games gain popularity. SkyCity Casino has asked the State Government to review pub poker games, arguing that they may be illegal.

After the complaints of unlawful gaming, police scrutiny on pub games in hotels has been noticed. The Australian Hotels Association advised its 520 member hotels this month that they may be breaching laws by being involved in taking money for gambling. The AHA stated, "We believe this arrangement could well contravene the Lottery and Gaming Act,"

General Manager of the AHA Ian Horne said, "While there's great appeal - it's an enormously popular game and it's good for business - if there's cash involved there's a level of risk." Pub operators return all entry fees back to players as winnings, therefore taking no rake, which they argue prevents any breach of the Act.

The National Poker League, has over 40,000 South Australian players at 100 pubs and clubs with both "free" and cash-entry games. It offers $25,000 in cash and prizes every ten weeks. Brayden Haynes whose company Full House operates tournaments on behalf of the National Poker League said, "We feel this is fun, entertaining, sport-like and we feel this is a really good social outlet for people."

The Licensing Enforcement Branch of the police investigated a hotel poker tournament recently and was satisfied there were no breaches of the Lottery and Gaming Act.

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