The Battle of Malta has come under fire after it was revealed on Twitter that the organizers had paid dealers to appear topless.
Ladies’ events in poker tournaments are meant to be safe and inclusive spaces, but organisers at the Battle of Malta ended up offending almost all runners. With topless dealers at every table, the €100+€10 NLHE Ladies Event attracted negative attention from its players and spectators from all over the world.
One of the first players to share the debacle was Daiva Byrne. She was one of over 90 in the event, and posted a photo to Twitter:
It wasn’t long before the Twitterverse caught wind of the situation. Daiva’s tweet attracted over 100 comments, and many respondents were outraged:
- “WTF??? That’s just embarrassing. How can anyone have seriously thought that was a good idea!”
- “This is actually ridiculous. Not just gender discrimination but extremely uncomfortable situation for dealers and players”
- “Gross on so many levels.”
Professional poker players even got involved in the conversation. Kara Scott, an 888 Poker Ambassador also voiced her concerns:
According to reports, the dealers were offered €50 on top of their usual pay to take their shirts off, and an additional €50 to perform a dance before the tournament started. Of course, it made for a humiliating experience for both players and the dealers.
Word spread fast, and the Battle of Malta organizers had no choice but to publicly address the issue. They have issued an apology and it seems quite sincere:
“Our intention at the Battle of Malta is to create a fun and welcoming atmosphere for everyone at all times during the festival. We respect all our players and staff and certainly had no intention of upsetting anyone, or making anyone feel uncomfortable. We sincerely apologise if this was the case at any time. We take great pride in our events and are fully committed to our inclusivity policy”.
The organizers have also made a gesture of appreciation and decided to donate all registration fees from the ladies’ event to Pink October Malta, a charity that promotes breast cancer awareness. They also announced that the ladies’ event at next year’s Battle of Malta will have a guaranteed prize pool of €25,000.
It’s great to see that the Battle of Malta organizers have taken responsibility for the debacle, even though it should not have happened in the first place. We hope that all of the dealers were issued personal apologies and additional compensation for the embarrassment they endured.