Recently, the Chinese government’s decision to crack down on online poker applications has led to a series of issues within the Macau poker industry. So far, two poker rooms have been closed, and the new tournament series has been canceled due to legislative changes. In World Series poker, recent policy changes may cause events to be canceled, leading to more issues in the future.
The first poker room closure takes place within the City of Dreams venue. Melco Resorts & Entertainment has decided not to re-sign with PokerStars, and the PokerStars LIVE Macau poker room is effectively closed. The poker room was a major event venue in the region, home to the APPT Macau, Macau Poker Cup and Asian Poker Championships. PokerStars spent five years in the City of Dreams, and first moved in to offer poker games.
None of the Melco Resorts provided an official reason for the closure. According to Inside Asia Gaming, the change may be due to a major gaming floor being redesigned during the upcoming real estate shake-up.
The second poker room to close is Galaxy Macao, which was used for cash games rather than tournaments, but was recently renovated but did not catch on.
After two poker rooms were closed, a new event that was scheduled to take place in the area turned out to have been canceled. International Poker Tour Macau was scheduled to take place next week. Alisport was the organizer of the IPT, and announced last week that the event had been postponed “after careful consideration.” IPT Macao’s business model was largely centered around the Alibaba Poker app, allowing players to participate in tournaments. With the crackdown, this was no longer an option.
Last month, the Chinese government announced that poker will no longer be considered a competitive sport, while at the same time it can no longer promote Texas Holdham on social media applications. According to Inside Asia Gaming, with this ban, all apps that offer some form of social poker play must be shut down and will no longer be available in the app store. WeChat and other social media channels are now unable to promote any products related to Texas Holdham.
Poker games are popular in China mainly due to their social media applications. The ban will affect several companies, including Our Game, the owner of the World Poker Tour. Other companies affected include Voya Interactive and Tencent. Voya offers poker tours that use the app to qualify, while Tencent has a poker app that was quickly removed after the ban was announced.
Tencent is linked to the World Series of Poker, which has a 10-year partnership deal.