Poker enthusiasts in China face a harsh new reality as their sport was dealt a stunning swift blow by the country’s government. Monday morning, it was reported by the South China Morning Post that starting June 1st, poker will no longer be recognized as a competitive sport in the nation.
Many are referring to this incredible and shocking ban as “Chinese Black Friday”, as officials stated broad concerns over gambling. A series of government actions effectively crippled the country’s poker industry and will make it extremely difficult for players to interact with eachother and take part in the game they love.
The Chinese government will prohibit all phone and mobile device application stores from offering poker-related games and content and will shut down social media platforms like Weibo and WeChat. The industry had been on the rise with average revenues per paying users up 73 percent from 2016.
Stephen Lai, managing editor of the Hong Kong Poker Players Association, had a lot to say about the ban and the sheer range of its impact from that could stretch as far Manila in the Philippines to the South Korean Jeju Island.
“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. It is also a blow for the Asian poker community because Chinese social media can no longer cover poker.””
China has a long history of censorship, and the latest poker ban is just the next in a long line of practices, products and resources that many around the globe enjoy being prohibited in the country. The Chinese government has established an incredibly tough reputation and the bans fall in line with it even if modern China has become progressively more lenient in other areas.
“It is a shame that the government won’t allow people talking about the game,” Lai said. “We have been very happy that China have been allowing social gaming, not for money, so that people from China have a chance to practise and travel around Asia and beyond to play poker, where it is legal to do so.
Lai continued on the loss of “play money” poker in China as well as how it would hurt Chinese and other Asian countries’ competitors in world-wide poker events.
“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 practise, and they won’t get to know about legal poker events around Asia. Poker has gone back to square one in China.”
Poker pro Ryan Riess spoke for a lot of poker fanatics blindsided by the news, tweeting his disbelief on the move by China. Riess won the World Series of Poker Main Event back in 2013 and most recently won €10,200 PokerStars Championship event on August 26 of last year. The Michigan native is 29th overall on the all-time American poker leaderboard in terms of winnings.
Wait wtf is China banning poker? I’m confused— Ryan Riess (@RyanRiess1) April 23, 2018