China is not too happy about online poker. For a while now, the country has been systematically clamping down on various versions of the game. Recently, the Chinese government has introduced a series of restrictive measures affecting not only the online poker industry, but also video games.
Chinese Government Clamps Down on Online Poker and Video Games
Until now, video gamer makers, including Tencent – the country’s largest tech giant to create and own gaming assets – have had a fairly unrestricted field of operation, mainly in Mainland China. This may be about to change with the government focusing on the “values” promoted through entertainment and standing as the ultimate judge of moral and immoral.
To tailor such products the ruling People’s Party of China wants all pieces of entertainment to promote values that coincide with the party’s outlook. To ensure control, the country’s watchdog, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television, is no longer accepting new licenses, focusing on censoring and processing the already existing ones.
The hardest hit are companies that have invested and developed games featuring poker or other gambling elements, which will make obtaining a license a demanding and most likely fruitless task.
While the changes were first introduced in December, 2018 and there was only a hint that gambling products would undergo a complete rebuttal, the latest developments are a confirmation of that fear.
China has been revving up its online censoring efforts as well. The ruling party has ordered the state’s censors to excise any mentions of poker online and prevent it from spreading across the country.
The party has also ruled that developers will have to also snoop on players and allocate gaming restrictions based on age. This is not an entirely bad idea, with Chinese aged 12 or younger allowed only 1 hour of gaming time a weekday.
Competitive Video Gaming Under Threat
China is one of the largest markets for video gaming and despite the relative seclusion of the country, China is expected to generate $210.3 million in terms of esports revenue in 2019 alone, estimates Amsterdam-based Newzoo, a marketing researcher.
A newly established Online Ethics Review Committee has been busy issuing recommendations for improvement to game makers. Nearly every mainstream product has been deemed inappropriate during the review.
With even traditional games coming under so much pressure, it’s no surprise that online poker is indeed a disappearing breed in Mainland China.