Beijing, China – A group of mobile poker apps have been blocked as part of the capital city’s attempt to crackdown on various illicit online activities. Poker has been deemed an inappropriate pastime for its residents, leading the Chinese government to do as much as possible to stop the people from accessing such content.
China banned online poker as of June 1, as well as any kind of social media promotion of the game. This came as a huge disappointment to the poker community within China, as the game had seen fairly rapid growth in the country, despite players not legally being able to gamble with real money.
The apps for two big names – Poker Tribe and Poker King – have been affected, with users no longer being able to access them from their mobile devices. While residents of the country were able to fund their accounts with real money at these sites (due to them being offshore platforms), the block has halted any kind of gaming at them. This will come as a bit of a knock for Poker King, which experiences daily betting amounts of up to 50 million yuan ($7.2 million).
The Chinese authorities have strengthened their oversight of all online activities in the country. This has seen the social media platform WeChat, receive an order to remove pornographic material due to it being deemed “inappropriate”. Time restrictions have also been imposed on how much youths spend playing online games.
Government Aims to Decrease Illegal Activities
The Chinese government states that it has the authority to take such extreme measures, following a raid on a gambling ring in July. Certain WeChat users were caught using the social media platform as an aide to claim more rewards on gambling platforms.
Not only that, but 71 people have been arrested in the past year-and-a-half, for participating in gambling activities, using WeChat and QQ Platforms for doing so. Around 60 million yuan stands as the largest sum won via this illegal gambling option. This led to WeChat closing down over 8,000 groups on the platform which related themselves to gambling.
Can the government really say that these moves will stop the Chinese people from wanting to gamble, though?
The Poker King platform has stated that it does have all rights to provide its services to poker gamers. It holds a licence from the Philippines, although the site frequently changes its names to be able to re-enter the market after previous shutdowns by authorities. Prior to being known as Poker King, the platform went by the name of Poker Circle.
Yet, some people have claimed that poker has become too addictive for them. Huge figures of money have been lost by residents who found themselves fascinated with the game and wanting to win. Time will tell whether the government is able to do enough to help these people, or whether it’s taking things a step too far in the wrong direction.