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The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) is the independent statutory authority that regulates Victoria's gambling and liquor industries.

Our vision is that Victorians and visitors enjoy safe and responsible gambling and liquor environments.
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Poker

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This page outlines conducting poker outside a casino. 

Poker games and tournaments are commonly played outside casinos including at pubs and sporting or community clubs. 

There are no restrictions on poker games and tournaments played outside the casino if players do not have to pay money or anything else of value to play in the game or tournament. 

If players must pay, (for example, the player pays an entry fee to enter the poker tournament or stakes money on the poker game), the following requirements apply:

  • the poker game or tournament must not be conducted with the intention to raise money for any purpose (exceptions include fundraising for charitable organisations, see fundraising involving poker below);
  • all money or anything else of value that is paid or staked is returned to players as winnings in full; and
  • a person must not receive any money or anything else of value for organising, managing or supervising the poker game or tournament (whether they participate in the tournament or not).

If the above requirements are not met, the poker game or tournament may be unlawful, unless a minor gaming permit has been granted (see fundraising involving poker below). Unlawful poker can result in a penalty of $165,220, or 2 years imprisonment, or both.
 

Can tournament organisers charge players a fee?

Tournament organisers often charge players a fee in order to participate in a poker tournament, which is commonly called an entry fee, a buy-in fee or an administration fee. 

Tournament organisers can only charge such fees if all fees paid are returned to players as winnings in full. The tournament organiser must not keep any fees (including a share of the fees) paid by players, otherwise, the poker game or tournament may be unlawful, unless a minor gaming permit has been granted (see fundraising involving poker below). 

Fees may be charged and kept by tournament organisers for separate goods or services (such as food or beverages) only if it is not mandatory for a player to purchase these goods or services to play in the poker tournament. Where a fee is charged to a player for separate goods or services, this should be clearly explained to the player.

Gaming venues should also be aware that there are certain rules that we have issued that prohibit charging a fee for entry to a gaming machine area, see: Rules for venue operators  

For more information on these rules you can call us on 1300 182 457.
 

Fundraising involving poker

An organisation declared by us as a community or charitable organisation can apply for a minor gaming permit to conduct a fundraising event (for example, a casino night), which may include poker. 

If a minor gaming permit has been granted, the organisation may charge and retain fees associated with the event for fundraising purposes. A fundraising event must be held according to the conditions specified on the permit.

For more information, see: Fundraising involving minor gaming activities

Risks associated with playing poker outside a casino

Players should be aware that our oversight of poker games or tournaments played outside the Melbourne casino is limited to determining whether such games are unlawful.

We have no legislative power to monitor game “house” rules, investigate complaints about, or enforce the payment of winnings from such games.  We cannot assist players if the organiser or host of a game fails to enforce the “house” rules or does not ensure that winnings are paid.

For more information about poker you can contact us
  
 

Page last modified 
13 December 2019