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Casino Embarrassment for ex-Tasmanian Premier

Former Tasmanian Premier Paul Lennon was forcibly removed from Melbourne’s Crown Casino on 24 July after allegedly creating a disturbance, which he argues was due to him licking his finger during a game of Texas hold ‘em Poker.

Casino Embarrassment

Witnesses described to The Mercury, a Tasmanian news publication, how Lennon was ‘frog-marched’ off the premises by up to six members of the casino’s security staff with his hands bound by cable ties. Lennon, who was Tasmania’s premier from 2004 until 2008, was also slapped with a $739 fine for failing to leave a licensed premise, according to a Victoria Police spokesman.

There are conflicting versions of the events that led up to the incident. Lennon maintained that he had broken a little-known rule during the poker game by licking his index finger before picking up his cards. The Age, a Victorian news publication, quoted Lennon saying that the dealer had taken offense to him licking his finger and had asked him to move away from the table. Lennon claimed that he was manhandled by staff after he had complied.

Alleged witnesses paint a very different picture. Speaking to The Mercury, a witness described how Lennon had berated a woman at his table, accusing her of touching his casino chips. The man, named only as Steven, alleged that Lennon had been sitting at the Vegas Bar by himself at a neighbouring table. A woman at his table touched one of his chips, said Steven, and he ‘went off at her’. When a security guard asked him to calm down he continued to shout, demanding that she be removed from the bar. They came back repeatedly to ask him to calm down, but after an hour they had enough and forcefully ejected him, Steven claimed.

Lennon told The Mercury that he had been drinking only water that night and denied being abusive. He also claimed that it was he who had requested for the police to be called. He said, “It was, as far as I’m concerned, a ridiculous episode.”

He added, “I’d be surprised if anyone’s ever been asked to leave before because they licked their index finger before they looked at a card, but that’s what happened to me.”

Indeed a Google search turned up no other reported incidents in which a poker player had been ejected from a casino poker game for licking a finger, nor any set of rules that specifically states that licking fingers is an offense.

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