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Tencent To Shutdown Gambling-Related Poker Game As Beijing Tightens Control Over Gaming Industry

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Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings Limited announced yesterday that the company will shut down a popular Texas Hold’Em poker video game in late September, in response to Beijing’s intensifying crackdown on the country’s gaming industry.

Tencent formally began to shutter the game named "Everyday Texas Hold’Em" yesterday and would permanently close the game’s server and clean all back-end data on September 25. The company would compensate users according to regulations of Ministry of Culture, said the game’s official website.

Shenzhen-based Tencent collects a significant amount of its profits from gaming. However, Beijing’s censorship and regulations on the country’s game industry are tightening. The deteriorating environment has already forced the company to pull one successful game and censure others.

"Indulging in online games is a huge hazard – the whole society should act to establish a protection net for youngsters," said the state-owned Xinhua News Agency in a commentary published in early September. "For the nation’s future, we can never allow gaming companies to hunt for wealth by inducing teens to get addicted [to games]."

The commentary came after Beijing published a document on August 30, outlining how the country would improve myopia among minors.

The shutting-down of Tencent’s Texas Hold’Em poker video game is partially caused by the government’s tightening regulations. On the other hand, however, the company is "adjusting its business composition". That is why the upcoming closure of one game would not have a great impact on the company’s revenue as a whole, said Chinese financial media outlet National Business Daily citing company insiders.

However, the company’s market value told a different story. The company posted its first profit decline since 2005 on lower gaming revenue. And its market value slumped by about US$20 billion in one day in August over concerns that China would further limit the country’s gaming industry.

"It was a surprise that chess and card games were falling victim first as they were more closely associated with gambling," said Reuters citing a person in Tencent’s gaming division who prefers to stay anonymous because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Gambling is illegal in mainland China, which is another prominent reason that led to the crackdown of Tencent’s Texas Hold’Em poker video game.

Free online games such as chess and card games are now on the government’s radar. The major reason behind it is the existence of the "game currency vendor". They traded the game currency with real currency in a certain exchange rate, ten million game coins in exchange of RMB600 (US$87) for example. The trading makes the game suspected as relating to gambling.

Founded in 1998, Tencent’s main business is video games but the company also runs the country’s dominant social network WeChat, with more than one billion users as of March 2018.

In 2017, Tencent was forced to alter an online game, Playerunknown’s Battleground, because the game had "severely deviated from socialist core values" as commented by the state-owned media People’s Daily.

Texas Hold’Em is one of the most popular forms of poker, where players use mind games and bluff to predict their opponents’ behavior to win money in the pot. The game originated in Texas in the early 1900s. Tencent’s Texas Hold’Em poker video game ranks 32th in the Apple free app store as of the writing.


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