THE Chinese Government continued its assault on online gambling and internet freedoms this week, ordering real-money poker phone apps Poker King and Poker Tribe to cease operation.
The news comes as another bitter blow to the online poker industry, which may have to withdraw all attempts at getting a foothold in the enormous Chinese market.
Poker King and Poker Tribe were two of the most popular gaming apps in China and their owners had long argued that they were operating legally under licenses that had been insured in the Philippines.
Recent reports suggested that online poker apps still generated as much as 50 million yuan (US$7.2 million) per day. The Chinese Government has been on a crusade to crack down on online gambling after instituting laws against social real-money poker games and betting apps in April, 2018. Since that date, some apps have reappeared under different titles, but it appears their days are numbered.
Poker King made money by charging its players a levy from the ‘playing pots’ and money won. Players were also required to deposit US$140 when they opened new accounts.
Experts have suggested that the move will see poker players turn to black-market and illegal options, forgoing player security and safety. But even black-market websites and live venues will be under constant threat.
A recent report tabled by the UN found that China’s internet ‘freedoms’ have diminished for eight years in a row, emphasising the Government’s stranglehold on lifestyle and online activity.
In the past two years, government officials have made more than 70 arrests on online smartphone app gambling charges. One of the most famous round of arrests included Australian casino employees, sent to China to recruit new customers.
And the internet censorship doesn’t just end at gambling.
Last month the Chinese government ordered local online company Tencent to remove all pornographic content from its social media website, WeChat. Yikes.