The international internet phenomena that is Facebook has poker fans the world over captivated by their Zynga online poker game. While Zynga is not played with real money, it offers a realistic online poker experience. Since its launch in 2007, Zynga’s Texas HoldEm poker has been enjoyed by players in more than 100 countries around the world, and today sees 25 million players participate each month.
Facebook recently announced that they will soon be targeting Asian players with a version of Zynga poker that will be offered in Mandarin. It will be available to players in Taiwan and Hong Kong, but poker fans in mainland China will not be able to connect to Zynga and play online poker in China. Not only does the Chinese government ban Facebook, but they also have a negative attitude towards online gaming, even when no money is involved.
Recent changes to Chinese gambling laws, which went into effect on the first of August, place severe limitations on all forms of internet games in the country. The new laws state that “any morally questionable online games are illegal”. This restriction applies mostly to internet gambling sites, but limitations are also changing how online video games can be accessed. ID checks and time limits have been put into place in an effort to curb what officials see as a problem with teens spending too much time playing online.
Zynga Poker falls someplace in between serious gambling and just-for-fun video gaming. It’s not played with real money so it isn’t on the same level as major sites like PokerStars, but rather than place it alongside video games like fantasy role playing, it has been lumped together with all other online gambling sites in China. But despite these harsh rules, players in China who wish to play online poker, for fun or for real money, find a way by simply joining sites operated from other countries.