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In what can be deemed as one of the biggest blows for poker in China, the country’s government has made an official announcement to ban the use of online poker games – including social games with effective from June 1. As a result, all major play stores in the country like Google Play, WeChat and the Apple Store have been asked to remove all poker related apps from their marketplace. The ban will also require all social media channels to stop the promotion of poker in any form in China.
The Chinese government had already come down strictly on gambling, money laundering and corruption and this step seems to carry forward the same agenda.
This is undoubtedly a major blow for the poker industry and the move will result in a major decline in new poker players from China. New players will now have very limited means to learn or practise the game as popular mediums like social media apps and games offering virtual money poker will all banned in the country starting June 1, 2018.
According to press reports, officials are still reviewing the situation and no legal framework related to the ban has been published till date. According to the sources at Tencent, the company behind WeChat and the Chinese expansion of the WSOP, they have been asked to remove their WSOP app from stores. According to experts, e-commerce giant Tencent is one of those companies that will be majorly affected after the enforcement of the ban.
The Chinese owners of the World Poker Tour, Ourgame, are also waiting for clarifications on the ban and are closely monitoring the situation.
Macau has become a hub for Chinese poker players and the fact that participation from China at some premier events in the region has increased over the years is testament to this fact. While the online ban may result in increased interest in live games at Macau by Chinese players – the ban itself is obviously detrimental to the growth of the game in the region.