China continues to be a less than hospitable place for some businesses related to the gambling and poker industry and operating such enterprises there is difficult. Most recently, the Chinese government ordered popular Poker King & Poker Tribe operator to shut down operations.
The Poker King Is Dead
China has been micromanaging the lives of all people in the county, so the gaming industry is no exception. As a matter of fact, even Tencent has been buffeted by the sanctions and tightening control over gambling and poker in particular. With this in mind, other companies simply don’t stand a chance if they are found to be doing something that goes against the grain of the ruling party’s line.
In April 2018, the Chinese government ordered the shutdown of social poker games, which was just step one of a more elaborate master plan. The belligerent stance of China towards poker has affected the ambitions of Tencent, but also the World Poker Tour (WPT) and the World Series of Poker (WSOP).
With this hostility towards poker growing, China today moved to hit another operator. Poker King & Poker Tribe have been caught in the regulatory net of the country, with Android and iOS devices being cut off from the network, Chinese media reported last week.
According to the available information, the operations of the companies were shut on the spot without any official statement following the decision of the government. As per the available data, Poker King was accepting bets every day totalling $50 million, which must have certainly been noticed by the government.
Implications for the Rest of the Industry
While Poker King & Poker Tribe succumbed, the gaming industry and poker in particular have been booming in Macau. The ban on free social poker apps has been tangible and felt across the entire spectrum of the industry.
However, operators in China avoid focusing on a single segment too doggedly, so as to be able to diversify and adapt to the government’s changing humors. However, Bloomberg has seen the first signs of slow-down in Macau, as the soft economic war between China and the United States carries on.
October’s result is the clearest signal yet that China’s slowing economy and the trade war between Beijing and Washington is weighing on the outlook for the world’s biggest gaming center. – Bloomberg
Though there are no signs about intentionally targeting gambling activities or poker for that matter, the industry has come under some pressure. If there is a silver lining, however, it’s the fact that the government has taken seriously the fight against illegal operators.
This has continued on three main fronts. First, Chinese authorities clamped down on any illegal activities around the FIFA World Cup 18. Then they moved on to single out gambling companies that operated without a permission, and lastly, they moved on poker.
In the case of poker, though, their decision may have been rather rushed and short-sighted, as the stated reason unofficially was the fact that the values of the game didn’t coincide with what the party held to be against its ideology.