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Thousands of punters have flocked to pubs and clubs after the strict rules for the popular Anzac Day ritual of two-up were relaxed for the long weekend.

The game, famously played by Australian troops during World War I, is usually banned except on April 25 each year – except in the Outback town of Broken Hill – as it’s classed as unregulated gambling. 

But NSW this year temporarily lifted the ban to allow two-up to be legally played in pubs, clubs and elsewhere across the entire three-day weekend of April 24-26.

The one-off initiative aims to give back to veterans who missed out during the Covid-19 pandemic at the biggest Anzac Day commemoration since 2019.  

The rule change embraced by punters across the state over the weekend with several venues attracting an influx of patrons ready to hedge their bets.

Scroll down for the full explanation of how two-up works 

Wagga Wagga's William Farrer Hotel in the NSW Riverina region has attracted big crowds all weekend for two-up

Wagga Wagga's William Farrer Hotel in the NSW Riverina region has attracted big crowds all weekend for two-up

Wagga Wagga’s William Farrer Hotel in the NSW Riverina region has attracted big crowds all weekend for two-up

Large crowds have already gathered at RSL venues on Monday for a final day of two-up fun. 

NSW Veterans Affairs Minister David Elliott said: ‘This year not only marks the first year since the Australian Defence Force’s withdrawal from Afghanistan but is also the first time, since 2019, that veterans will be able to reconnect with mates to attend their annual reunions free of restrictions.

‘These Anzac Day events are vital for the welfare of our vets, and many of them were very distressed by missing or inhibiting commemorations over the past two years, so the NSW government is giving them their two days back.’

Mr Elliott lifted the two-up ban as an incentive for veterans to return to commemorations.

‘The game synonymous with diggers and veterans, with Anzac Day and Gallipoli,’ he told 2GB earlier this month.

‘Given we had no Anzac Day two years ago and heavy restrictions last year, my view was that we give them those two days back.

‘There is no excuse for our veterans not to recover for lost time. It’s a day for the veterans.’  

Two-up celebrations are already underway on Monday at the Royal Richmond Hotel in Sydney's north-west

Two-up celebrations are already underway on Monday at the Royal Richmond Hotel in Sydney's north-west

Two-up celebrations are already underway on Monday at the Royal Richmond Hotel in Sydney’s north-west

With no restrictions on hospitality venues, the CBD march itself, or travel, thousands packed Sydney’s Martin Place to capacity for the traditional dawn service, despite the rain.

There’s also free public transport for veterans and their families on the final day of two weeks of fee-free travel for Sydney commuters.

Veterans also have free entry to Royal Randwick and the traditional Anzac Day clash between Sydney Roosters and St George Illawarra Dragons at the SCG. 

Australian soldiers regularly played the coin toss betting game in trenches and on troopships during World War I, after it was originally played by immigrants and convicts in the 1850s goldfields. 

The game involves a designated ‘spinner’ who throws two coins or pennies into the air as players bet on whether the coins will land on heads or tails.

The Courthouse Hotel in Tamworth also took advantage of the temporary easing of the statewide ban on two-up

The Courthouse Hotel in Tamworth also took advantage of the temporary easing of the statewide ban on two-up

The Courthouse Hotel in Tamworth also took advantage of the temporary easing of the statewide ban on two-up

Thousand of punter and veterans take part in two-up each year, a coin famously game played by Australian troops during World War I (pictured, Sydneysiders watching two-up in 2021)

Thousand of punter and veterans take part in two-up each year, a coin famously game played by Australian troops during World War I (pictured, Sydneysiders watching two-up in 2021)

Thousand of punter and veterans take part in two-up each year, a coin famously game played by Australian troops during World War I (pictured, Sydneysiders watching two-up in 2021)

Veterans continued to play the game when they returned home from war until it was eventually banned by the NSW government in 1981.

Other states followed suit several years later.

In Broken Hill, a mining town in the far west of New South Wales, the game can legally be played every day of the year – and the town hosts a game every Friday.

Full-scale Anzac Day commemorations without any restrictions have been held for the first time in three years, drawing massive crowds across the country.

Not even rain could put a dampener on dawn services packed to capacity in Sydney’s Martin Place and at Currumbin on the Gold Coast.

More than 50,000 Melburnians gathered at the Shrine of Remembrance, the biggest dawn service attendance there since 2015. 

This year sees the return of full scale Anzac Day commemorations since 2019 in the wake of Covid-19 restrictions in recent years. It is also the first ceremony to be held since Australia and the US-led Coalition withdrew soldiers from Afghanistan. 

Thousands of Sydneysiders lined the streets of the CBD for the traditional Anzac Day march

Thousands of Sydneysiders lined the streets of the CBD for the traditional Anzac Day march

Thousands of Sydneysiders lined the streets of the CBD for the traditional Anzac Day march

Not even the rain could keeps crowds away from Anzac Day dawn services on Monday, with Sydney's Martin Place packed to capacity

Not even the rain could keeps crowds away from Anzac Day dawn services on Monday, with Sydney's Martin Place packed to capacity

Not even the rain could keeps crowds away from Anzac Day dawn services on Monday, with Sydney’s Martin Place packed to capacity

Commemorations were restricted to televised services only and no marches for the first time in more than a century in 2020 due to onset of Covid, where thousands paid their respects at home in driveway dawn commemorations.

Services and marches returned with limited crowds in most parts of the country in 2021, except for Perth and the surrounding Peel region which were plunged into a snap lockdown sparked by a hotel quarantine outbreak.

This year marks the 107th anniversary of the landings at Gallipoli during World War I, a campaign which ultimately cost more than 8,700 Australian lives. 

Two-up explained: How to play 

These rules can be used to govern the playing of Two-up, but are not mandatory.

The decision of the ringkeeper will be final

The ringkeeper shall select a spinner by offering the kip clockwise around the ring and shall hand the kip to the first person who accepts it

There shall be two sets of seven pennies held by the ringkeeper. The spinner shall select two pennies from one of the sets, thrown down inside the ring by the ringkeeper

Only two pennies shall be used

A change of pennies shall be at the discretion of the ringkeeper

The tail side of pennies will be marked with a white cross

The spinner shall place pennies tails up on the kip

The spinner shall select two other pennies from the remaining five of the set after throwing three consecutive pairs of heads. The ringkeeper shall retain the winning two pennies and throw down the balance of the set for the spinner to make the selection

The spinner cannot take a dividend before three consecutive heads are thrown

In the event that the spinner throws tails, the spinner shall lose the total of the moneys in the centre and the right to spin

The ringkeeper shall declare a spin invalid by announcing ‘no spin’ or ‘barred’

Centre monies shall be set in full before any side bets may be made

Only the spinner shall be permitted within the boundaries of the ring during play

A spinner after throwing three consecutive pairs of heads may withdraw from the centre

No person under the age of 18 years shall be permitted in that area of the Two-up premises where the game is being conducted while the game is being conducted and played

Unseemly conduct or offensive language shall not be tolerated

The spinner shall hand the ringkeeper the amount of money the spinner wishes to spin for, the ringkeeper shall hold that money and the equivalent amount from a tail bettor to cover the bet

Source: Liquor and Gaming NSW

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