The 2021 Aussie Millions has been postponed indefinitely due to ongoing uncertainty regarding COVID-19 restrictions in Australia and the world at large.
Melbourne’s Crown Casino made the news public via an announcement on its website. Citing safety concerns, the organizers haven’t set a date for when the popular tournament will return, but they have said they’ll formulate a plan when it’s “safe” to do so.
The postponement comes just days after Crown Casino was given the green light to reopen in a limited capacity after being asked to close by the local government in March.
Popular Event Dealt Blow by COVID-19
Losing the Aussie Millions is another blow for poker players. The annual event has been a staple on the poker calendar since 1998. Originally known as the Australasian Poker Championship, it was later rebranded as the Aussie Millions.
Over the last 20+ years, the main event, and the festival as a whole, has grown in popularity. The last three champions, Toby Lewis, Bryn Kenney, and Vincent Wan, each had to outlast 800+ players to win the $7,650 Aussie Millions Main Event.
The Australian series was also an early pioneer of super high roller events. $100,000+ tournaments have added something to the festival over the last decade and kept the likes of Phil Ivey coming back for more every January.
However, in 2021, not even the great Phil Ivey will be landing at Melbourne Airport.
“Due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, Crown Melbourne wishes to advise that the scheduling of the 2021 Aussie Millions poker tournament and other poker events due to take place in 2021 will be placed on hold until further notice,” reads the notice published on Crown’s website.
Whether or not that means the Aussie Millions is on hold until 2022 is unknown at this point. What we do know is that the situation is fluid.
“Crown will continue to monitor and review the situation, working closely with the Victorian Government and health authorities to determine if and when such events can be safely revisited,” the update continues.
Statistically, Australia hasn’t suffered as many COVID-19-related deaths as other countries. At the time of writing, 907 people have died following a positive test.
Still, the relatively low numbers haven’t stopped Australian officials from imposing some of the toughest restrictions in the world. Stay at home orders have run alongside travel bans and the closure of non-essential businesses.
In the state of Victoria, where Crown Casino is based, people can only see up to two people in their own homes. Other states have removed such restrictions, but life is far from normal in Australia.
No Online Option for Aussie Millions
Aussie Millions organizers could follow the trend of 2020 and turn their live event into a digital one. However, due to regulatory restrictions in Australia, that would exclude one of its core demographics.
Online poker has been illegal in Australia since 2001, but the Interactive Gambling Act (IGA) until recently contained loopholes that allowed offshore operators to continue serving Australian residents.
The government closed these loopholes in 2017 with the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill. Pro online poker groups have been fighting back ever since, but every major operator has since exited the country.
As such, an online Aussie Millions might not sit well with the Australian government. Moreover, it would mean anyone in Australia would miss out on what’s become the highlight of the country’s annual poker calendar.