Crown Melbourne 12-hour Rule May Nix Tournament Poker

Crown Resorts has been implementing numerous new policies during the pandemic. Most of them are results of the NSW Liquor and Gaming Authority inquiry into allegations that Crown properties had become conduits for money laundering and other types of trafficking. While the inquiry’s final report concluded that many issues needed to be addressed by Crown in order to keep its gambling licenses, casinos like Crown Melbourne already implemented some of the recommended policies. One of those is the 12 Hour Daily Visit.

That 12-hour limit may impact tournament poker to the point of making it harder – if not impossible – for casinos to host a series like the Aussie Millions.

Playing for 34 Hours Straight

It happened at Crown Melbourne. It was in 2019. A VIP gambler, one known to some of the casino staff, gambled for 34 hours straight. No one forced the person to take a break.

The news came during the New South Wales inquiry. An attorney assisting in the inquiry put that information on the record. Adrian Finanzio said that this was not likely the only case. The system had been set up to leave gamblers alone for long periods of time without any intervention from the staff.

Commissioner Ray Finkelstein testified that one of Crown Melbourne’s responsible gambling advisors provided evidence to that end. That advisor said that casino staff rarely intervened, even if a gambler used a loyalty card and was recorded as playing 12 hours. Sonja Bauer, head of that responsible gambling department, testified that staff did encourage carded players to take breaks after 12 hours, then 15 hours, and again at 17 hours. There were alerts for the staff. However, she did admit that employees did not track those not using the electronically tracked cards.

Crown Melbourne did employ 12 people to monitor players and encourage responsible gaming. They were trained, and they passed on some responsible gambling information to employees in other departments.

However, most of these guidelines were verbal, vague in writing and mostly simply encouraged. There was no oversight to ensure that gamblers were monitored. In addition, pre-pandemic casino visitor numbers indicated a daily total of 64,000 people in the casino. One dozen staff members was insufficient.

Victoria Sets Rules

The findings of the Royal Commission, which followed the findings of the NSW inquiry into Crown Melbourne, made their way to the Victorian government. Among the many findings and recommendations in the final report, the Commission ordered changes to the responsible gambling program. Victoria not only accepted the total of 33 recommendations but added several of its own.

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All of this became a part of the Victorian Casino and Gambling Legislation Amendment Bill 2021.

While the scope and details of that legislation are wide and extensive, for this article’s focus, the bill included stricter responsible gaming measures and more efforts to reduce gambling harm. One of those new mandates – one that went into effect immediately – was the requirement for every player in Crown Melbourne’s casino to play with a loyalty card. Along with that, the casino must monitor all cards for playing times and wins and losses.

Further, each player must be a member of the “Your Play” system, set up to track the players and their action. All players using pokies must set a loss limit for themselves. They may change it over time, but they must start with some sort of limit.

Finally, every gambler must take a 15-minute break after playing pokies for three hours. No one can play more than 12 hours in a 24-hour period, and no player can exceed 36 hours of gambling per week.

Limits Not Conducive to Poker Tournaments

The new 12 Hour Daily Visit policy at Crown Melbourne is now effective. It is a part of the deal to keep Crown Melbourne licensed and open to the public.

As PokerMedia Australia pointed out, this is a massive blow to the casino’s long history of poker tournaments.

Crown’s poker room has been closed during much of the pandemic, and poker tournaments have been out of the question. However, the poker room has been a center of the poker universe during the annual Aussie Millions, and it has been a national player draw during other series throughout a normal year. There is the Crown Poker Championship, Melbourne Poker Championship, and Victorian Poker Championship. This doesn’t even touch on the daily and weekly tournament offerings at the casino.

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Poker tournaments, especially those in series like the Aussie Millions, easily run from late morning to late night. A tournament might start at 11am and run through until midnight or later. Those are conservative times, to be certain. Further, players may arrive early to register for an event and walk around the casino to grab a meal or coffee, and they may stay after the tournaments to decompress, possibly play a slot machine for a short time. There are many reasons that an average tournament poker player could be in a casino for 14-16 hours in a 24-hour period.

Poker to Pay the Price

Most of the inquiry testimony and findings had nothing to do with poker players.

The fact is, though, that most Australians do not know the practical differences between pokies and poker. It is all the same, all various forms of gambling.

For all of the mistakes of Crown’s management through the years and for the actions of Crown pokies players and staff, poker may pay the price by losing some of its most popular tournament series. For many years, poker players would trek across the world to play in the Aussie Millions. Now, it is unclear if the series – or any poker series – will be able to return after pandemic measures subside.




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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