It was only a few days ago that we reported on China banning online poker in the country, with the law surrounding this to come into effect on June 1. And while this will obviously affect the poker community within China on the whole, various poker rooms as well as operators within Macau are already beginning to see the effect of this on them. Despite this, some have actually suggested that it won’t be of any problem, even though some rooms have begun to close, and tournaments have already been cancelled too.
It was towards the end of April that the Chinese Ministry of Culture opted to implement a ban on citizens accessing and playing online Texas Hold’em Poker, as well as a ban on the advertisement of tournaments for such on social media. Within days of this announcement, several different companies decided to remove social, free-to-play poker games from the Chinese market. In actuality, this was the only kind of poker gameplay that was available legally in China, with real-money poker-play being illegal for multiple years already. The recent ban will essentially stop citizens from playing Texas Hold’em games for virtual funds!
With the introduction of this ban, many people began questioning how this would affect poker operations in the Macau location. Players from mainland China are actually quite important to the gaming industry of Macau. Of course, various companies remained as optimistic as possible. In fact, The Stars Group (which is responsible for the PokerStars network) said that it didn’t believe the ban would affect anything relating to its tournaments and events.
Negativity Seeps Through
Although The Stars Group has chosen to look at things in a positive enough way, others have been quite as forthcoming with behaving in such a way. For example, Alisports took the decision to cancel its International Poker Tour (IPT) in Macau, which was due to begin on May 16 and last for four days. Supposedly, this event was set to help with the promotion of the Alibaba poker application in China – something that many players could use and end up qualifying for the tournament through.
In addition to this, two poker rooms that Macau hosts have also gone on to close entirely. The Galaxy Macau platform and City of Dreams offering both opted to shut their doors altogether. While it cannot be confirmed that these closures were related to the Chinese poker ban, it still reduces the number of options in Macau. When it comes to the City of Dreams poker room, this one actually closed after a contractual period between it and PokerStars came to an end. It’s most likely that the PokerStars platform will go in search of a new venue in which it can hold events within the Asian continent.
Of course, the ban was only announced a few weeks ago, so the full impact of such is yet to be seen. It’s a shame for the Chinese community, although the government took the decision to do this as social media apps were actually being utilised in the country to set up underground poker games within China, with real money games being played at such. Therefore, in order to stamp this out, the government took the decision to make all online poker play illegal.