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Online poker giant PokerStars has withdrawn real money gaming from Hong Kong. In a move that’s widely being surmised as one of the rippling effects of China’s ban on online poker, PokerStars has announced in an e-mail sent to its Hong Kong based players that real-money play will no longer be offered to them. The announced withdrawal came into effect on May 23.
While The Star Group hasn’t specified why the real money services are being removed for Hong Kong players, it simply observed in the e-mail that, “The Stars Group frequently reviews commercial and regulatory developments around the world.”
According to industry sources this could be a subtle indication that following the ban on all poker apps and publicity on WeChat and other social media platforms in Mainland China that comes into effect from June 1, continuing real-money online gaming in Hong Kong is no longer practicable and a profitable prospect for PokerStars.
Instead, now that The Star Group has collaborated with the casino and hotel group International Entertainment Corporation (IEC) via its subsidiary- Lucky Genius Ltd., PokerStars looks to be shifting focus on on-land live events and poker rooms across Asia.
After it broke away from its agreement with Macau-based Casino City of Dreams, PokerStars has been toying with the idea of re-launching its operations in Macau in another venue.