Tasmania social-poker club holds public protests over Australian state’s live-poker ban

Haley Hintze
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Posted on: February 11, 2024 8:57 pm EST

Members of one of three social-poker clubs operating in the Australian state of Tasmania held a pair of public protests on Saturday. The protests continued opposition to a “clarification” from the state’s Department of Treasury and Finance that effectively banned all live poker in the state that occurs outside of licensed casinos.

Players from the Bullets Poker League set up poker tables and chairs in Launceston’s Civic Square and on the lawn of the state parliament in Hobart, Tasmania’s capital. Protestors waved signs stating “Bring Back Social Poker” and other messages in a continuing effort to have Tasmanian officials reconsider last November’s decision regarding the legality of social-poker clubs and leagues, which included the publication of a fact sheet confirming the government’s current stance regarding the clubs.

The clubs have been forced into hiatus since late November due to the government clarification, and the Saturday protests did succeed in generating some news coverage in Tasmania and throughout Australia.

Club owner states Tasmania government officials won’t meet to discuss issue

Bullets Poker League co-owner John Allmark told Tasmania’s The Examiner that he’d been in contact with officials from the Tasmanian Liqour and Gaming Commission, the specific agency charged with enforcing the November clarification. Allmark, however, added that the commission was often slow to respond or entirely ignored contact attempts, and to date it has refused all requests for a face-to-face meeting with poker players.

“The emails that we’ve sent where we’ve waited a month or two for a response – it’s a bit of a joke considering we’ve got a small business to run,” Allmark said. “We’ve been out of business for four months now.”

It’s unclear exactly how mamy of the club’s players attended either of the two rallies, though an Examiner photo from the Launceston protest shows about 30 players in attendance. The club has also launched an online petition – open to Tasmanian residents only – in a continuing effort to have the state’s legislators revisit the situation.