Poker is back in NSW as pandemic’s challenges persist

by Mia Chapman Last Updated
Poker is back in NSW as pandemic?s challenges persist

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented numerous challenges to the gaming industry.

Casino Aus reports poker tournament operators, casinos, poker leagues and everyone wanting to host poker action were kept out of nearly every reopening plan across Australia. 

In New South Wales, Liquor & Gaming NSW didn’t approve any poker activities. The regulator went as far as to order all live poker leagues and tournaments paused immediately. 

Poker organisers like the National Poker League and Australian Poker League began working together to find solutions and present them to NSW for approval. 

Their ultimate move was to collaborate and form a collective.

Along with the APL and NPL, the WPT League and others joined as well.

“Poker NSW is a cooperative containing a large group of poker operators that represent >90% of the poker events that are conducted in NSW hospitality venues,” the website said. 

They developed a safety plan that the NSW Police approved. 

It means that operators can begin running events that include live tournaments, shootouts, Sit n’ Go’s and satellites. 

The NSW Police approved the latest edition of the Covid Safety Plan from Poker NSW.

While officials can and may require adjustments based on the direction of the pandemic in the coming months, the following is a current rundown of the safety plan. 

As for tables and players in tournaments, there are eight players maximum on oblong tables or six players on round tables. 

A maximum of 300 people are permitted in one room or one person for every four square metres, with multi-table tournament action restriction to 10 people.

These restrictions will make it hard for tournament operators and it remains to be seen which will be able to arrange something that incorporates the plan and enables an event resembling a traditional poker tournament.

Another part of the safety plan is the equipment each tournament director must possess. 

This includes disinfectant spray, antibacterial wipes, hand sanitiser for each table and at registration locations, temperature gun or no-touch thermometer and masks for everyone in case they don’t bring their own. 

Tournament directors must participate in the Infection Control Training from the NSW government, obtain a completion certificate and display that certificate at registration. 

They are also required to contact the COVID-19 Safety Hygiene Marshall for the venue before that event takes place to ensure cooperation and approval.

Leagues cautious as games soon to begin

The National Poker League already put the information on its website, as did the WPT League. 

No tour has yet made an announcement regarding how they will apply the new rules to organise events.

The NPL also wrote a note to its players to explain what happened with Poker NSW.

“What this means for players is that poker will be back!” Team NPL wrote.

“We are working hard to bring you a great night of poker entertainment so stay tuned for more details.”

The poker operators are being careful due to the extra eyes of the Liquor and Gaming NSW on the community.

In addition, they have seen the consequences of various establishments breaching the rules and safety measures.

Just in the past several weeks, Liquor and Gaming NSW has taken action against these venues.

One example is The Phoenix Hotel in Woollahra, which didn’t ensure social distancing rules and received a $10,000 fine.

The Bondi Bowling Club was another, facing a $10,000 fine after breaches on September 8 noted multiple group bookings, patrons mingling while drinking and no social distancing in bar queues.

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