Apt Reverses And The Star Sydney Cancels Live Poker

The news for poker players in Australia is not good. Live poker is going to be slower to return than anticipated, especially in tournament form. Many tournament organizers and poker room managers who believed they could schedule some events for later in 2020 are discovering that their plans must be scrapped.

Places like The Star Sydney are acknowledging that there will be no live poker at all through the end of the year. And the Australian Poker Tour is already cancelling its recently-announced September event.

Not only is the coronavirus pandemic still lurking and threatening another wave of positive Covid-19 cases, but its unpredictable nature is also forcing businesses to refrain from taking chances. Cancelling an event after putting time and effort into planning it can be more costly and troublesome for organizers and players than a preemptive shutdown.

Apt Cancels at Southport Sharks

Less than one month ago, the Australian Poker Tour excitedly announced its return to the live tables. After much planning and clearance with the venue, not to mention new protocols in place for the event, the APT announced an 11-tour series at Southport Sharks on the Gold Coast over the first weekend in September.

CEO David Miles worked with the venue to plan for social distancing and sanitization at the series. They would set the tables at least 1.5 metres apart, limit the number of players at the tables, encourage online registration, and check the temperatures of players. They planned to offer hand sanitizer, masks, and gloves to all who wanted them.

It was going to be a unique weekend of tournaments, but the APT wanted to do it.

Just weeks later, the APT felt the need to postpone it. They offered this message on the website and through social media channels:

“We regret to inform that the Australian Poker Tour has had to postpone our upcoming event scheduled for the 4th of September at Southport Sharks. Unfortunately, our venue could not facilitate our series due to a scheduling conflict, as well as in response to increased public health concerns with Covid-19 restrictions.

“Once again, the APT apologises to all our players and affiliates who had booked flights and accommodation, as this has caused great inconvenience to some.”

However, the APT is allowing its next event to remain on the schedule for now. That series is planned for October 7-11 at the Eatons Hill Hotel in Queensland.

The Star Cancels All Poker in 2020

On June 1, The Star Sydney welcomed players back into its casino per the approval of the NSW government. It took only three days for an incident to develop, one in which people gathered too closely in a casino bar on a weekend night…and a person tested positive for Covid-19.

NSW Liquor & Gaming was more than a little displeased and levied a $5,000 fine. It wanted to send a strong message that the facility must mitigate risks or face more penalties and a possible shutdown.

As the casino did remain open, it was restricted to members of The Star Club and no guests. They are able to patronize some of the restaurants and bars and play the pokies.

The Star made no mention of its poker room during the reopening process. The poker room’s page of the website addressed the Star Poker community: “We are very appreciative of your many years of support and humbled by the outpouring of messages from our regulars. Thank you for your patience as we work towards a reopening date.”

Players remained hopeful…until a July 19 Twitter post from @StarPokerSydney:

“Star Poker cash games and tournaments for the remainder of the year have been cancelled until further notice. We apologise for the inconvenience and thank everyone for understanding.”

This came just days before the Sydney Championships live poker series was supposed to begin. And according to Poker Media Australia, a spokesperson for The Star Sydney also confirmed that the WSOP Sydney scheduled for November 2020 is “on hold indefinitely until the necessary easing of restrictions presents options.”

Other Closures or Non-Openings

The Star Poker Gold Coast also halted all hopes for poker players there, closing what had reopened. However, there is no update on the website regarding the new closure and any potential second reopening plans.

Crown Casino in Victoria is keeping its casino action shuttered until further notice. There have been no updates on the Crown website or on the Crown Poker Twitter account since March.

Coronavirus Update

The resurgence of Covid-19 since late June concerned many, especially those watching Victoria cases begin to overtake the previous hot spot of NSW.

In the last week, the daily average of newly reported cases was 355, with the majority from Victoria. The last 24 hours shows the trend:

  • 309 new cases in 24 hours leading to July 24 (300 in Victoria, 7 in NSW)
  • 139 deaths in 24 hours leading to July 24 (55 in Victoria, 49 in NSW)

As the numbers continue to surge, government and health officials may implement further restrictions and shutdowns to stop the spread again.

Covid cases as of July 23


Rose Varrelli avatar
Rose Varrelli
Senior Casino & News Writer

Hi there! I’m Rose, and with nine years behind me in the iGaming industry, I craft engaging narratives at CasinoAus. My education in Communication across Europe has sharpened my skills in fintech, casino legislation, and digital marketing. Backed by a strong foundation in SEO, storytelling, and cross-cultural communication, I’m passionate about creating content that resonates globally and educates our audience.

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