The only traditional gambling venue located within Australian Capital Territory, usually abbreviated as ACT, Casino Canberra is not like most of Australia’s gambling halls for one important reason – the complex is not allowed to host pokies, a traditional favourite game among Australians and international gamblers.
Called slots or slot machines outside of Australia, the spinning reel games found in most casino gambling complexes around the world are only licensed for use in Canberra’s nightclubs, bars, and other retail locations.
Canberra is the capital of Australia, and Australian Capital Territory is set aside to be the seat of all government in the country. Located in a relatively small area in the south-eastern portion of Australia and surrounded by the territory of New South Wales, ACT the smallest federal territory in all of Australia, containing just one city, Canberra itself.
Tourists vising Canberra and residents of this Australian Capital Territory city have a single casino complex where table games and poker are allowed – Canberra Casino, also known as Casino Canberra.
Casino customers looking for traditional table games and poker will find Canberra Casino a welcome spot. The site’s gambling floor takes up a little more than 38,000 square feet, a large enough space for the inclusion of poker machines. Electronic gambling machines are available at the casino, though the site is not licensed to host actual pokies. Many attempt to lobby the territorial government of ACT and the government of Australia to allow the site to place poker machines on the floor have been met with consternation from lobbyists who represent the bar and restaurant industry in Canberra. Those areas bring in a lot of income through poker machines, and the concern is that if Casino Canberra starts to host these popular games, income from the machines at the city’s many nightclubs and eateries will start to plummet. As of this writing, Canberra’s casino is not able to host any spinning reel games.
In Australia, pokies are such a big part of casino gambling, it is very unusual for a venue of the size of Casino Canberra not to provide poker machine games. However, video poker and other skill machine games are on offer – a few hundred of them in fact. Video poker games are distinct from pokies in that they are variations of machine games based on the rules of the card game poker, and are therefore classified as skill games. Pokies are traditionally considered games of chance and are in a distinct category from video poker titles and the other skill games hosted at Casino Canberra.
In order for Canberra’s only land-based casino to provide the poker machines that Australians and foreigners love, a piece of legislation put together by the territorial government would have to pass and allow Canberra Casino to be licensed for this type of game. A majority vote at the territorial level in support of such licensure is unlikely; many times in the past just such legislation has been put forth and tabled.
The fact that Canberra Casino has a poker room sets the site apart from Australia’s other gambling floors. Other casinos in the country, almost all of which have licenses to host pokies and a license allowing for a larger collection of table games, don’t offer a true head-to-head poker room or poker tournaments. At Canberra’s casino gambling site, every Thursday is set aside for poker tournaments where as many as forty players compete at No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em games with a buy-in set at AUD $115. At these tournament events, cash prizes are handed out to gamblers who finish in the top five.
The casino’s biggest live poker tourney events are the site’s two seasonal championships, the Winter Poker Tournament and the Summer Poker Tournament. The only way to get a seat at these events is to win them at satellite events that take place over the course of a given year. The satellite tournament schedule is available from the poker room or on the casino’s website.
Customers interested in them can take part in Sit & Go tourneys only available by demand. The casino’s poker facility allows between six and eight gamblers at a time to play in small No Limit Hold ‘Em poker tournaments, with buy-ins set at AUD $60. These on-demand only events have no re-buys, and offer cash prizes for the top three finishers at each table. Blinds in these tournaments are set to begin at $25/$50 and increase every fifteen minutes until a tourney winner is established, with blinds doubling after the first two hours of play.
Canberra Casino depends mostly on their table games for casino-style betting – most of the games of chance and skill at the casino come from table games, and the website promises no fewer than forty-one tables open at any given time. The list of available games includes both double zero and single zero roulette as well as the popular electronic version Rapid Roulette, both a standard and a miniature baccarat game, a traditional-rules blackjack game and a handful of variants like Pontoon and Spanish 21, plus favourites like money wheel, Sic Bo, Pai Gow Poker, and Caribbean Stud Poker.
Though Casino Canberra does not have a hotel property attached, guests of the casino can take advantage of package deals the casino has with other hotel properties in the nation’s capital. Adjacent to the Crown Plaza Hotel Canberra, the casino is also a two minute walk from the popular Waldorf Apartment Hotel. Because the gambling floor is centrally-located, most hotel accommodations in the city are ten or fifteen minutes away by car or public transit.
Gamblers who join the Senators Club (a free rewards and loyalty group) can park under the adjacent Crowne Plaza Hotel at a reduced rate. Gamblers only at the site for a couple of hours can park at the National Convention Centre next door for $2 a day. Visitors who dine at the casino’s signature Grill Restaurant earn free parking with all meals after 6 PM.