Social poker is on track to make a comeback in Tasmania, with the Tasmanian Liberal Government pushing to resume pub tournament poker by exempting such games from the Gaming Control Act.

Under the 2030 Strong Plan for Tasmania’s Future, the Government is committed to creating an environment in which the social poker scene aligns with its commitment to a prosperous future.

Michael Ferguson, acting minister for finance, says the Government will deliver on its commitment under the 2030 Strong Plan, and publicans can expect social tournaments to return to Tasmanian venues soon.

“This is a genuine social activity for many Tasmanians, and we are working with the social poker community to get poker tournaments back up and running as soon as possible,” he said.

“The Tasmanian Government committed to make amendments to reopen a vibrant and thriving social poker scene that fosters community connection. We are advised that legislative amendment to the Gaming Control Act is not required to get people back playing games of social poker, that have low entry fees and do not involve wagering.

“The Minister will direct the Tasmanian Liquor and Gaming Commission to declare social poker an exempt game under the Act. This direction will be made within the First 100 Days, as committed,” he continued.

The direction to declare social poker an exempt game under the Gaming Control Act will allow small-scale social poker tournaments to operate under specific conditions, allowing for the continuation of the game in pubs without further regulatory oversight.

“Our priority is to find a solution that gets pub tournament poker back up and running as soon as we can, and declaring social poker an exempt game under the Act is the quickest way of doing this,” added Ferguson.

Steve Old, CEO of the Tasmanian Hospitality Association (THA), commented on the decision, explaining that the association is fully supportive of the return of tournaments to pubs.

“We believe these events can foster a sense of community, encourage social interaction, and offer patrons an enjoyable and engaging activity,” he told Australian Hotelier.

“There are tangible benefits our venues stand to gain from the reintroduction of social poker. These events drive increased foot traffic, attracting both regular patrons and new visitors eager to participate in a friendly, competitive environment.

“Additionally, poker tournaments can enhance the social atmosphere, making venues more lively and appealing. Hosting such events can also position pubs and hotels as entertainment hubs within their communities, fostering customer loyalty and repeat business. It’s no different than going to a venue with some mates to watch the footy, or catching up at a restaurant for a meal,” he added.

“Social poker has proven to be popular pastime and we support any measures to entice people into venues for regulated fun and entertainment.”

While social poker tournaments are set to return to hotels, non-tournament poker, which operates like a casino table game, will only remain lawful when conducted in a casino.

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