Weldborough

Tasmania’s first casino was in the far North East, at the centre of the Chinese mining community at Weldborough. It was one reason for some correspondents to the local newspaper to call for immigration restrictions. However,
(and by their own admission), many non-Chinese could be found  frequenting the establishment!

The Chinese miners established communities at Blue Tier, Argus, Garabaldi, Bradshaw’s Creek, Moorina, Weldborough, South Mount Cameron and Branxholm. Weldborough was their largest settlement and each year was the focus of the Chinese New Year festivities. Another attraction at Weldborough for many non-Chinese was the casino.

Guests entered past a stern looking Chinese security guard holding a loaded gun into a dimly lit room where the game played was Fan Tan: a favourite of Chinese expatriates across the Unted States and Australia.

A square is marked in the centre of an ordinary table, or a square piece of metal is laid on it, the sides being marked 1, 2, 3 and 4. The banker puts on the table a double handful of small buttons, beads, coins, dried beans, or similar articles, which he covers with a metal bowl, or "tan koi". The players then bet on the numbers, setting their stakes on the side of the square which bears the number selected.

The casino took a percentage of every wager and from all reports was well patronised by all nationalities. It is not known who owned the casino, but it is likely that it belonged to Maa Mon Chin, the wealthy merchant and leader of the Chinese community at Weldborough.