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Intro

Disclaimer

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.

Purpose

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.

Legislative basis

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:

  • under a gaming function permit issued by the Gaming and Wagering Commission (“Commission”);
  • at a licensed casino; or
  • in the form of social gambling as outlined under section 64of the Act.

Poker that is not played for money or money’s worth, does not constitute gaming and is therefore considered social gambling.

Social gambling

Section 64of the Act deals with social gambling and provides conditions under which social gambling may operate lawfully and without a permit. These conditions include:

  • the gambling must be spontaneous; and
  • the gambling must not be promoted or conducted for the private gain of any non-competing player; and
  • no person may be defrauded or cheated; and
  • there can be no levy or charge (apart from the stakes or wagers placed) in respect of the gambling; and
  • all stakes and wagers must be distributed in winnings to participating players; and
  • the chances in the game must be equally favourable to all players; and
  • the gambling cannot be in the form of two-up or any other game played at the casino, other than poker.

Gaming function permit holder

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).

Permitted poker

Poker is played in various derivative forms including Texas Hold ‘Em, Manilaand 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 tovarious conditions as indicated below:

Tournament Poker (including mini tournaments referred to as 'Sit and Go')

  • Rules of tournament poker are as shown on the department’s website.
  • Where a licensed supplier is engaged to assist with the conduct of the gaming function permit, the minimum net return(after all expenses) to the organisation/charity holding the permit must be 5% of gross proceeds of each permitted event (gross proceeds comprise the sum of all tournament entry fees and buy back/re-buy fees).
  • The maximum number of buy backs/re-buys(re-purchase of chips) is three per player.
  • The organisation holding the permit may allow the jackpotting of prizes for distribution at a later event (grand final).
  • Jackpotted prizes must be kept in an account held by the organisation holding the permit or the organisation holding the grand final event.
  • Where poker is played on a seasonal basis, a submission is required to accompany the first month’s permit applications. The submission should outline the season’s schedule, including the proposed buy-in amounts, venues and permit applicants. The grand final permit application must also be lodged at this point.
  • Where multiple organisations are contributing towards the prize pool for a season final, one organisation must be nominated to hold the funds in trust. This agreement should be in writing, signed by the president and treasurer of each organisation and submitted with the permit application. The agreement should also include the details of the bank account where the funds are to be held.
  • Gaming function permits may be advertised provided the advertising is in the manner shown below. Seasonal events can also be advertised in a similar manner provided that an authorisation has been given by the Commission. Advertising of the gaming function shall be in the manner of an advertisement which displays, states or announces the following information only:
    1. The words "Gaming Function by permit issued under section 47 of the Act”;
    2. The name of the organisation to whom the permit is issued;
    3. Name and location of venue;
    4. Date and day of function;
    5. The approved hours of the gaming session; and
    6. The kind of games to be played.
  • No novelty/incentive bet types are to be linked to the poker gaming activity (such as jackpots connected to achieving a Straight or Royal Flush).

Commission Based Poker (also referred to as Cash Poker)

  • Rules of tournament poker are as shown on the department’s website.
  • Commission on each pot may be charged up to a maximum of 10%.
  • Where a licensed supplier is engaged to assist with the conduct of the gaming function permit, the minimum net return (after all expenses) to the organisation/charity holding the permit must be 15% of gross proceeds (gross proceeds are the sum of all commission collected from the gaming activity).
  • The same advertising restrictions that apply to tournament poker are also applicable to commission based poker.
  • No novelty/incentive bet types are to be linked to the poker gaming activity (such as jackpots connected to achieving a Straight or Royal Flush).

Gaming suppliers and gaming operators

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.

Poker on licensed premises

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 or 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.

In assessing applications for gaming function permits the Commission must also take into consideration section 110of 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 1988the 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 $2,000per 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.

Other relevant factors

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.

Lodging applications

Applications for gaming function permits are to be lodged through the online portal must be accompanied by the prescribed fee. 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:

  1. The first month’s permit applications must be lodged no later than the seventh (7th) day of the month preceding the month during which the first permits are proposed to take place. Additionally, the grand final permit application should also be lodged at this point as well as a written submission outlining the season’s schedule, the proposed buy-in amounts, the venues at which all events will take place and the names of the charities/clubs that intend to participate by way of permit applications. All other applications should be lodged on a month by month basis and no later than the 7th day of the month preceding the first permit date.
  2. Where poker is not proposed to be conducted on a seasonal basis, permit applications must be lodged by the 7th day of the month preceding the first permit date.

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.

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: rgl@dlgsc.wa.gov.au

Page reviewed 25 June 2019