Chinese authorities have shut down another live poker event, sewing further confusion as to their official stance toward such activities.
Wednesday marked Day 1 of the Asia Poker League (APL) event in Kunshan, a city of 1.6m located just outside Shanghai in Jiangsu province. The event, which was supposed to continue until November 29, marked the APL’s second tournament on Chinese soil, following its successful organization of the APL Beijing tourney this August.
The APL Shanghai obtained a license to operate through the PokerSports Shanghai Club, which has hosted similar events in the area without incident. But SoMuchPoker reported that Kunshan authorities ordered the tournament to halt play Wednesday evening, forcing players to bag their chips early while awaiting further news.
On Thursday morning, the authorities officially called a halt to the event. APL president Judic Kim insisted that his group “has always hosted events in compliance with local laws,” but appeared resigned to the fact that you can’t fight city hall.
SoMuchPoker’s sources claimed that that a turf war of sorts had broken out among Kunshan’s local authorities over how the APL event was to be conducted, rendering the group’s carefully arranged agreements null and void.
Kim said the APL’s priority was “to protect our players and to make sure that the APL future in Mainland China remains intact.” As a result, it was the APL’s responsibility to shut down the event “if there is a misunderstanding related to the scope of the event with the local authorities and this problem cannot be solved.”
This isn’t the first time efforts to expand mainland China’s nascent land-based poker scene have been nipped in the bud. In April 2015, the PokerStars-sponsored Asia Pacific Poker Tour Nanjing Millions event was abruptly shut down under similarly murky circumstances. Authorities who had originally approved the Nanjing tourney as a sporting event later claimed the organizers were “suspected of illegal gambling.”