The tech company, Tencent Holdings, recently announced that it will shut down its Everyday Texas Hold’em game. Tencent issued a notice on September 10, notifying players that the free-play poker site will be going offline on September 25 in an effort to avoid sanctions from the Chinese government. Tencent said users will be compensated in line with Ministry of Culture guidelines. Talking to Reuters, a spokesperson later confirmed that the move was a “business adjustment” but declined to comment further, according to Card Chat.
By digging deeper for more information, reporters at the new agency were contacted by an employee who desired to remain anonymous. The meber of Tencent’s gaming division who provided further information said the move did not come as a surprise since chess and card games were closely similar to gambling, something that the government is working to crack down on.
Prior to the company’s announcement regarding the closure of Everyday Texas Hold’em, Tencent began witnessing its financial fortunes plummet. The company’s value dropped by $20 billion within one day in August, while a Q1 revenue reported displayed profits were down for the first time in 13 years.
Back in April, the tech provider removed all evidence of poker from its messaging service, WeChat. The app that was once home to more than one billion users, became the social media site with a huge marketing platform in China as a way for consumers to learn about social poker apps.
Stephen Lai of the Hong Kong Poker Players Association told the South China Morning Post back in April, “It is also a blow for the Asian poker community because Chinese social media can no longer cover poker. If you can’t promote those events on social media, Chinese players won’t know they are on, so they won’t go.”
In addition to the disappearance of Tencent’s poker, the company also removed the World Series of Poker (WSOP) app from its store.
The anti-gambling controls set by the Chinese government leads to horrible fears from gaming firms, although PokerStars continues to remain steadfast on its position in the Chinese market. A spokesperson for the Starts Group said in a statement to Macau News Agency on May 2 that a ban on social poker apps wouldn’t affect the company’s “existing businesses or live events.”
However, Christopher Chee of the Macau Billionaire Poker Event Company Limited, in response warned others than the ban could lead to “China’s Black Friday.” “The recent ban on all play money apps of Texas Hold’em really concerns the government being unable to control the real money operations many of these play money apps facilitate. It is my belief greed and a few bad apples have set the entire poker industry back to its starting point in China,” Chee told to MNA on May 2.
Chee’s fears are potentially confirmed after a major company like Tencent is being forced to make yet another change to its core business.