China continues to be extraordinarily conservative when it comes to the legality of gambling, despite having a long history of close engagement with it. However, as you will see from this post, there are some options for poker aficionados to play their preferred card game in the nation.
Not quite well known, but for hundreds of years, a game strikingly similar to poker has been played in China. The traditional Chinese card game, Tuo La Ji (Tractor Poker), is played with two decks and is very similar to the well-known Mahjong game.
Fast-forward to 2002, and the China State Sports Administration has designated Tractor Poker as a “mental sport” (CLSAC). Tractor Poker was quickly being played in national tournaments thanks to the standardization of its rules and the adjustment of the playing style to fit the many regions of the country.
The game of poker itself is another story. There aren’t many options to play poker and other casino games because the majority of gambling is prohibited in the nation. China has a long way to go before it becomes a hotbed of poker in Asia, despite the hosting of high-profile events by some of the greatest names in international poker.
Poker is permitted in China?
The fact is that poker, like the majority of other gambling activities, is prohibited in China. The state-run lottery is the lone exception.
In the casinos of Hong Kong and Macau, China’s special administrative areas, gambling is completely legal as well. However, there are very few locations on the mainland where one can play poker for real money.
It’s true that there have occasionally been poker events and tournaments on the mainland. However, the majority of these have been occasions sponsored by foreign organizations, frequently well-known casinos or card rooms.
Additionally, there have been numerous attempts by different sectors to set up legal casinos in China, but none of them have been particularly successful. For instance, Hainan province officials have stated their desire to establish a casino there. However, despite the State Council’s approval, nothing came of these proposals.
Online poker players haven’t done any better when it comes to having access to offshore poker venues. The government imposed restrictions on the promotion of poker in Chinese social media platforms in 2018 and effectively outlawed all online gambling applications. The choice has subsequently been compared to Black Friday 2011, when the proprietors of three well-known online poker clubs were charged with federal crimes.
Chinese laws and regulations
Article 303 of the PRC Criminal Law is the main legal provision that governs China’s gaming sector. According to a 1997 modification to the Criminal Law, anyone who organizes a crowd to gamble for profit or engages in professional gambling would get a sentence of at least three years in prison as well as criminal detention or public surveillance. A fine will also be assessed on offenders.
The amendment also specifies that anyone who runs a casino will face the same penalties. For more serious violations, the operator may get a fine and a sentence of up to ten years in prison.
Chinese law does not yet define what counts as offline or internet gambling, despite the fact that it is generally accepted that the restrictions in Article 303 apply to both.
Poker’s Regulatory Body in China
Since poker and other casino games are illegal in China, it is unclear which government body is in charge of policing the scant few poker activities that do exist there.
What is certain is that the State Council and the Ministry of Finance regulate and keep an eye on the two government-approved lotteries.
Age Limit For Gambling In China
For foreigners, the minimum age to play poker and gamble in China is 18, but it is 21 for Chinese people.
Popular Chinese poker tournaments
It’s interesting that despite the Chinese government’s restrictions on gambling, certain international businesses have continued to host poker tournaments there. The Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT) was sponsored by PokerStars in Beijing in 2014. With more than 2,700 players participating, the event was hosted by Beijing Star Poker Club and had a rather respectable turnout. The winning bid was 675,00, which is roughly $109,400.
An Asian Poker League (APL) event with a $500,000 guaranteed prize pool took place in 2016. The Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino hosted the 2017 WSOP Main Event the year after. It was the 48th WSOP Main Event and the first competition of its kind to take place in China.
The MGM Grand Sanya will host the WPT National China in 2018 from October 28 to November 3. There is 8.88 million Renminbi in the prize pool.
Chinese poker players’ banking options
Even if you are successful in finding a Chinese player-friendly online casino or card room, you might still be unable to make a deposit using your Chinese-issued credit card or debit card.
Depending on the casino you play at and your bank, bank wire transfers may or may not be permitted as well. Therefore, your best option might be Bitcoin or an e-wallet provider. Just for you to remind that many popular online poker clubs, such as PokerBros or GGPoker accept crypto.
Payment Methods Accepted In Chinese Poker Rooms
The Yuan serves as the fundamental unit of the Renminbi, the country’s official currency. This is accepted in all types of gaming businesses nationwide. You might also be able to utilize cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, which are still unregulated in China, depending on the casino you play at.
If you want to play poker in China for real money or big tournament payouts, there are sadly not many possibilities to do so. Even when compared to other nearby nations where gambling is prohibited, the environment is simply much too constrained for you to be able to engage in your favorite game without restriction. Even if there are some places and occasions where you could occasionally be able to play your favorite game, these are often few and far between.
Of course, there is always the choice to gamble in Macau or Hong Kong, both of which allow it without restriction. You might also decide to go to Taipei, where gambling is an acceptable pastime. Your best chance of really being able to play poker or other casino games on the mainland, though, is to cross your fingers that future law creates a more accepting climate for poker.