Many businesses want a piece of China. In fact, even those of non-traditional pursuits are becoming interested as to what China can offer to their business. Among which is poker. Two years ago, French entrepreneur Alexandre Dreyfus want to establish poker as a sport in China. According to him in 2016, “since four years ago when we bought the Global Poker Index the same players are always at the top. Tournament poker is a competitive game and like esports, the poker we envision is being structured as a sport”.
During this time, Dreyfus’ company, Mediarex Sports, and Entertainment was able to come up with US$ 4.9 million from investors coming from Beijing and Hong Kong in order to sportify poker and even make it more audience-friendly.
A Ban on Online Poker
Though everyone thought that China is in favor of poker, China just announced the ban on online poker by June 1. According to local media, Beijing will force all apps offering any form of “social” Texas hold’em poker to stop operations by the said date. In addition to this, there will also be a ban on social media platforms.
According to reports, Chinese officials are officially no longer considering poker as a “competitive sport”. If you will ask Stephen Lai who is the managing director for Hong Kong poker Player Association, this move will have a negative impact not only to China but to the entire region at large. He said that “Poker was growing very fast, now it is going to be more difficult for operators in Asia to organize poker events because Chinese players make up over half of the field”. He also added that “if you can’t promote those events on social media, Chinese players won’t know they are on so they won’t go.. it’s a shame that the government won’t allow people talking about the game. We have been happy that China has been allowing social gaming, not for money, so that people from China have a chance to practice and travel around Asia and beyond to play poker, where it is legal”.
Lai also mentioned that with the current move by the government, “poker has gone back to square one in China”.
Businesses Should Comply
The Chinese gaming company Ourgame, known for buying World Poker Tour years ago, released a statement that said that it will be complying with the new rules regarding poker. This means that there will only be limited options as to how poker is going to be played.
Today, Casino games are illegal in mainland China. And though there are some plans on making it legal in Hainan, it is currently just legal in Macau and in Hong Kong. In fact, exclusivity within Macau is what made it possible to become the largest casino market in recent years.
With this recent move, this can reshape how poker is played in the region. It is important to take a closer look at how businesses are going to react in the near future. Are they going to stay operating in China or will they choose to leave?