Chinese Online Poker Ban Comes Into Effect On June 1st

Chinese Online Poker Ban Comes Into Effect On June 1stThe Chinese government has announced a ban on social poker games starting June 1st, with all apps offering the game banned in the country, and all promotions via social media channels strictly prohibited. The surprise move is not only seen as a blow to the game’s increasing popularity in China, but will also have huge implications for Asia as a whole.
Commenting upon the development, which many are now referring to as the “Chinese Black Friday”, Stephen Lai, Hong Kong Poker Players Association managing director, stated:
“It was growing very fast, now it is going to be more difficult for operators in Asia to organise poker events because Chinese players make up over half of the field. If you can’t promote those events on social media, Chinese players won’t know they are on so they won’t go.”
Gambling Element to Social Gaming
In recent times, social-casino games have come under greater scrutiny by authorities concerned about their real-gambling aspects. The situation has been brought even further to the fore this month after Washington State (US) deemed free money poker games as illegal gambling and so banned them from the state.
A similar situation has now arisen in China, with a recent expose by China’s CCTV News concluding that such games are being used as a “gambling tool”. Drawing some of the harshest criticism from the report were Texas Hold’em games, which have essentially been labeled as hidden gambling games, with numerous poker apps currently available to Chinese players throughout the vast country.
Poker and Social Media Apps
The widespread crackdown will see social poker and casino games banned, with operators prohibited from promoting such games via social media channels. This will deal a devastating blow to China’s poker players as the game largely only exists in the country via these social media apps.
It is also the main way for players to qualify for live tournaments, while the experience gained from playing such games online provides Chinese players with the opportunity to practice for when they travel around Asia and other places in the world where playing poker is legal. Elaborating further on the implications, Stephen Lai stated:
“Now, with the alleged policy change, there will be no ‘play money’ poker in China, and you can’t talk about poker on social media. Chinese players won’t have a chance to practice, and they won’t get to know about legal poker events around Asia. Poker has gone back to square one in China.”
Major Fallout
By June 1st, app stores such as Google Play, Apple App Store, and WeChat will be required to remove any poker related apps, with Inside Asian Gaming ( reporting that the latter, which has been leading the WSOP brand promotion in China, has already removed its WSOP app.
One of the companies that is likely to be hit the hardest, however, is Hong Kong based Boyaa Interactive, a leading online game operator and developer which currently derives half of its revenue from poker-themed social-gaming products. Last December, the company also held its third iteration of the fledgling Boyaa Poker Tour, and as was mentioned in Boyaa’s 2017 financial report:
“The third Boyaa Poker Tour, our specially organized competition, was successfully held in the fourth quarter of 2017, which increased our brand’s awareness and players’ loyalty, enabling us to continue our steady steps towards becoming an internationally recognized poker game competition brand.”
In the meantime, Ourgame, which acquired the World Poker Tour for $35 million back in 2015, said that it was now examining its poker products and would soon correct its offerings so as to satisfy the new directive. Meanwhile, the operator stated that it would continue acting as “a bridge between China and the world’s intellectual sports” and introduce and popularize the worldwide spread of chess and card culture. Ourgame further stated that it would be constantly supervising and monitoring for any violations in the game, and ensure a healthy and fair environment in order to promote a “standardized and healthy online game market.”

Poker News
DOJ wire act
24 Jun 2021
It looks like the long saga of the Wire Act potentially killing interstate online poker is over. Interstate poker officially became legal again earlier this week after the Department of Justice declined to appeal the decision in a lawsuit between the DOJ and the New Hampshire Lottery. The DOJ had until June 21 to file
UK's Poker Sector Just 5% of Online Gambling Market
27 Oct 2020
A major outage by GeoComply last Thursday left several online poker players with nowhere to play. GeoComply is a geolocation surface used by most online poker sites in the US. It determines where players are physically located which online poker sites need to know so ensure only legal players are using their sites. When GeoComply
UK Gambling Commission
15 Jan 2020
Online poker players and gamblers in the United Kingdom who currently fund their accounts with Visa or Master Card will need to find a new funding method. Earlier this week the UK Gambling Commission released new regulations that would make it illegal for online gambling deposits to be made with credit cards. The ban will
pennsylvania online poker
23 Jul 2019
Previous reports that stated online poker would launch in the state of Pennsylvania on July 15 have proven to be wrong. July 15th came and went last week and no online poker rooms went live in the Keystone State. Nearly two years have passed since Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf legalized online gambling in the state.