Ourgame Stops Rumor Mill Spinning by Confirming China Arrests

May 14th, 2018 | by Jason Reynolds

Ourgame has told the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that six employees were arrested in April around the same time China’s poker app ban was announced.

China PlayWPT

Following a ban on free-play poker apps like PlayWPT, China’s Ourgame has confirmed six employees were recently arrested. (Image: cnet.com)

Inside Asian Gaming first reported the news on May 14 following weeks of speculation that company officials were subject of a police investigation.

Ourgame’s filing was quick to quash these suggestions, but it did confirm that six employees from its Beijing Lianzhong Co Ltd. subsidiary had been arrested.

“None of these six individuals is a director of the company. The company has established a committee to look into this matter and engaged external PRC legal counsel to report to the relevant public security authorities regarding preliminary evidence found relating to such employees’ behavior,” read the official statement.

Turbulent Times for Chinese Poker Industry

The arrests come at a time when the Chinese poker market is in turmoil. Following an April 23 announcement that poker will no longer be recognized as a competitive sport in China, free-play apps were banned.

Although those in the industry have until June 1 to remove any products or promotional material from their websites, many of the major players have already withdrawn from the market. WPT owner Ourgame was one of the first to take down its free-play poker app from eCommerce site Tencent.

As other operators such as the WSOP followed suit, local news outlets began to learn of arrests at Ourgame. Beijing News reporter Jia Shizhao first reported that China’s Ministry of Public Security had arrested three executives from Lianzhong.

Further information suggested that 36 other individuals from outside of Lianzhong were also arrested in April.

Free Play Games Came at a Cost

While Ourgame hasn’t addressed the rumors directly, it appears as though there has been some fire where there was previously smoke.

One of the suggestions to come from Beijing News report is that Lianzhong’s poker platform was being used to facilitate real money poker games. Despite being a free-play app, certain individuals were using the in-game chips to represent real chips in underground games.

Neither the authorities or Ourgame have released the names of the individuals arrested. However, it’s likely the six cases cited in the stock exchange filing are the same rogue operators reported as running the illegal poker games.

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