Effective date: 14 August 2013Last amended: 3 February 2021Next review: 7 April 2022
This policy is designed to provide information regarding the subject matter covered, and with the understanding that the Gaming and Wagering Commission is not passing legal opinion or interpretation or other professional advice. The information is provided
on the understanding that all persons undertake responsibility for assessing the relevance and accuracy of its contents.
The purpose of this policy is to provide guidance on the manner in which poker may be lawfully played and conducted in Western Australia. It also provides guidance to clubs, charities and other organisations on how to apply for a gaming function permit
where it is proposed poker will be played.
The fundamental basis of the Gaming and Wagering Commission Act 1987 (“the Act”) is that certain types of gaming may be conducted under the authority of a permit, provided it is not promoted or conducted for private gain or commercial undertaking.
The gaming activity must be conducted for the purposes of raising money for the active promotion, support or conduct of any sporting, social, political, literary, artistic, scientific, benevolent, charitable or other like activity. The funds cannot be
used for commercial or private gain.
Gaming is defined under the Act as:
“the playing of a game of chance for money or money’s worth, whether or not any person playing the game is at risk of losing any money or money’s worth or not”.
A game of chance is defined as:
“does not include any athletic game or sport but, with that exception, includes a pretended game of chance and a game or pretended game which includes a degree of chance, whether or not combined with a skill or degree of skill”.
Poker, when played for winnings in money or money’s worth, meets the definition of gaming. Gaming, in the form of poker, can be played lawfully in this State as follows:
Poker that is not played for money or money’s worth, does not constitute gaming and is therefore considered social gambling.
Section 64 of the Act deals with social gambling and provides conditions under which social gambling may operate lawfully and without a permit. These conditions include:
The applicant for a gaming function permit must be concerned in the administration of, and make the application on behalf of a club, society, institution, organisation, association or other body of persons. Where the applicant comprises a body of persons,
a nominee ‘permit holder’ is appointed to hold the permit on behalf of that body.
Under section 51 of the Act the permit holder is responsible for the conduct of the gaming, including any breaches of the conditions of the permit. When lodging an application for a permit, the permit holder may submit a document nominating member/s who
will attend each event on behalf of the permit holder. These proxies must be genuine members of the organisation and the list is to include their positions within the organisation (for instance president, committee member, ordinary member etc).
Poker is played in various derivative forms including Texas Hold ‘Em, Manila and Draw Poker. When played under a gaming function permit, poker can be played in either tournament form or in the more traditional manner. When played under a permit
issued by the Commission poker is subject to various conditions as indicated below:
In relation to permitted gaming, a person who carries on a business which includes the sale, supply or repair of gaming tables and equipment used in table games is required to hold a Certificate as a Supplier of Gaming Equipment.
A person engaged to assist in the conduct of gaming for hire or reward is required to hold a Gaming Operator’s Certificate. Further, where a person is engaged through a service agreement between the organisation conducting the gaming and another
party for the supply of equipment and/or personnel to assist in the conduct of gaming, that person is required to hold a Gaming Operator’s certificate irrespective of whether they receive any payment or reward for services.
A person who provides their services voluntarily, that is not for any fee or reward, is not required to hold such a certificate.
The Act defines “conduct” to include promote, organise, manage or operate. Therefore, a gaming operator/supplier who assists in the conduct of permitted gaming is subject to the same conditions as the holder of the permit.
The holder of a Supplier’s Certificate may charge a fee for supplying gaming equipment, but that fee should not be dependent on the gaming activity turnover nor the manner in which that gaming equipment is used.
The holder of a Supplier’s Certificate or Gaming Operator’s Certificate is not permitted to hold monies that have been raised from any gaming function permit on behalf of the organisation to which the permit has been issued. In this regard,
where the supplier or gaming operator collects monies from the conduct of poker, the funds must be transferred to the permit holder organisation within three business days.
Furthermore, the holder of a Gaming Operator's Certificate or Gaming Equipment Supplier's Certificate shall not be permitted to be the permit holder or nominee permit holder.
Where a permit is to be conducted on liquor licensed premises (other than a club or club restricted licence), the licensee, any person in a position of authority in that licensed premises or an employee of the licensee shall not be permitted to be the
permit holder or nominee permit holder.
In assessing applications for gaming function permits the Commission must also take into consideration section 110 of the Act as it relates to licensed premises. Subsection (2) provides that where permitted gaming takes place on premises that are licensed
for the purposes of the Liquor Control Act 1988 the Commission shall ensure that any such gaming does not take place for high stakes or, in such circumstances as to constitute an inducement to persons to resort to the premises primarily for the purpose
of taking part in any such gaming.
For the purposes of section 110 of the Act and in respect of tournament poker, where the entry fee and any buy backs/re-buys made by the player are over $2,000 per permitted event, the gaming is considered high stakes.
Whether or not the gaming would be seen as an inducement for persons to resort to the premises primarily for the purpose of playing poker, will depend on the monetary value of the total prize pool available for each permitted event as well as the extent
of any other activities/entertainment that will be provided.
Where a proposed event at a licensed premises will have a total prize pool of more than $50,000, the permit application should include a submission addressing section 110 of the Act, including the reasons why the event would not be considered an inducement
for persons to resort to the premises solely for the purpose of playing poker.
Winnings in money or money’s worth includes (but is not limited to) cash, holidays, meal vouchers, alcohol or a share of a ‘pot’ of cash, even if these prizes haven’t been provided by the organisation or the venue hosting the game.
Poker tournaments that provide players with the opportunity to win a seat at a subsequent event where they can play for prizes in money or money’s worth based wholly or partly on their participation in that initial tournament are considered
gaming and thus require a permit.
Only one permitted gaming function will be allowed at each approved premises in any seven day period and the duration of any permit is 6 hours. The Commission may consider approving permits to allow gaming to take place for up to 8 hours for season ending
grand final events and other exceptional circumstances.
Applications for gaming function permits are to be lodged through the online portal and
must include the prescribed fee, the correct dates and the number of poker tables to be licensed for the event. As a general rule, a gaming function once approved may only be amended where special circumstances apply and the request to amend the permit
is made a least seven (7) days prior to the function. Furthermore, the frequency of previous requests to amend permits may be taken into account when considering the decision to amend a permit. If an application is subsequently cancelled by the organisation,
a refund of the fee will only be provided in exceptional circumstances.
Where poker events are proposed for a defined season, culminating in a grand final, lodgement of applications should be as follows:
The specific use of funds must be stated on the application form. Terms such as ‘general funds’ or ‘administration costs’ are not acceptable except where the organisation is registered under the Charitable Collections Act 1946.
New gaming permits for community poker will not be issued to any organisation that has outstanding financial returns, unless exceptional circumstances apply.
A financial return must be lodged within 7 days of the expiry date of the permit and financial records must be maintained for a period of 12 months. These requirements may be modified where the Commission is satisfied there are valid reasons.
For further information or assistance in lodging a gaming function permit, the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries can be contacted by telephoning 61 8 6551 4888 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Do not submit enquiries with this form.