Taiwan contemplates legalising online poker

Banned rubber stamp

The United States is not the only place where online poker is banned, with Taiwanese authorities also contemplating the benefits of legalising the game. The politician who brought the subject up was Government Minister Yang Chiu-hsing who made the distinction between gambling and poker. He regards it as a game of skill that requires intellectual abilities rather than one relying exclusively on luck.

The distinction is very important because in Taiwan gambling is strictly regulated and the consequences for those who operate outside the law are severe. That is why very few take the chance of organising poker events, despite the fact that Taiwanese players are some of the most skilled in Asia and have proven their worth in major tournaments. Some of them prevailed in Macau in the first tournaments organised by PokerStars in the Macau Poker Cup.

A few months ago, a Taiwanese poker player that goes by the name of Fan Yun-hsiang won’t the Macau Poker Cup Red Dragon. This is one of the most prestigious tournaments in Asia and attracts players from all over the world, which proves that local poker pros are competitive at the highest level. Not surprising, he is also among the leaders in the Asia Player of the Year standings, alongside other Taiwanese players such as Lin Hung-sheng or Chen Li-han

The authorities see the benefits of legalising online poker, because live casinos act as a magnet for tourists and can boost the revenue resulting from tourism. Macau is the ultimate example and if Taiwanese authorities would legalise poker, the revenue would increase by $1.5 million. Another thing that the local authorities should think about is that many poker players choose to compete in tournaments held in Japan or Philippines where the game is legal. Instead of drawing more players to Taiwan, they see their own players leaving for greener pastures as a result of prohibiting poker tournaments within borders.

Yang Chiu-hsing’s remarks are only the first step en route to legalising poker in Taiwan, but it is still one step in the right direction. Poker companies would surely be interested in establishing an industry here as they did in Vladivostok, a city in eastern Russia where gaming was made legal. As more countries are making steps towards legalising poker, Taiwan can’t afford to fall behind because when the games will eventually be regulated, the gap might be too wide to close.