Crown Melbourne informally affirms demise of Aussie Millions poker festival

Haley Hintze Author Photo
Haley Hintze
Posted on: January 17, 2023 15:15 PST

Australia's Crown Melbourne casino has affirmed to its patrons that the famed Aussie Millions poker festival, which was the Southern Hemisphere's largest poker gathering for more than two decades, will not be offered under the casino's current management. Responding to a recent inquiry on the casino's official Crown Poker Facebook account, the casino's social-media team declared, "Poker Tournaments will no longer be running at Crown." The news was first reported by PokerMedia Australia's Ben Blaschke. The outlet sought, but did not receive, additional details regarding Crown's abandonment of the Aussie Millions series.

The seemingly permanent demise of the Aussie Millions wraps up the famed series' history, which included 23 consecutive annual festivals from 1998 through 2020. The series was originally known as the Australian Poker Championships, later became the Crown Australia Poker Championship, and switched to its "Aussie Millions" title in 2014.

The abrupt acknowledgment that Crown Melbourne's tourney action wouldn't return was met with disappointment from several of the room's customers. Since the casino reopened for business following its COVID-related downtime in 2020 and 2021, the poker room has offered only cash-game action.

COVID initiated hiatus, but not only factor

Though COVID played a role in the Aussie Millions' original hiatus, it appears to have been far from the only factor. As seen at other venues around the world, many thriving poker rooms have found it difficult to rehire a full staff of trained poker dealers many months of casino downtime; many dealers transitioned to other lines of work.

In Crown Melbourne's case, regulatory concerns played a role as well. The casino remains under strict government monitoring and specially appointed management after regulatory investigations uncovered widespread abuses ranging from the facilitation of international money laundering to abusive marketing practices aimed at customers. One new condition of operations that may have impacted poker-tournament operations is a current mandate that no customer can remain in the casino for more than 12 hours. The condition would have posed an extra hurdle for long-running final tables, among other concerns.

Blaschke and Blackhall sound off

PokerMedia Australia's Blaschke and Landon Blackhall discussed Crown Melbourne's acknowledgment in the debut episode of their "Run It Out" podcast. "We haven't seen much communication from [Crown] at all in regards to poker in general," explained Blackhall. "with the exception of updates on cash games. Is this the end of the Aussie Millions and the Crown poker product as we know it?"

"I think the short answer is yes," responded Blaschke. "We sort of assumed poker was on the back burner. The nature of this response, I believe, confirms [] that poker is well and truly not on the radar for Crown at the moment." Blaschke and Blackhall also delved into some of the regulatory concerns that Crown currently faces.

"Unfortunately for the poker community," Blaschke added, "it looks like no poker tournaments at Crown any time soon, possibly for years. And certainly in terms of the Aussie Millions, which is, I think the one that we're all particularly interested in, [it's] very unlikely [we'll] see the Aussie Millions again.... I'll be surprised to see it in the next five years; it may never return."

Featured image source: Aussie Millions