Police in China have raided a poker club in the province of Hubei that was said to be offering a variety of illegal casino games on its premises. The club was legally allowed to operate poker games but it was engaged in gambling which is prohibited in Mainland China.

The club was by no means a small operation. Police discovered that it had revenues of over 300 million Yuan ($45 million) in the first half of 2015 alone. Named Wuhan PK365 Club, the club hosted a number of poker variants but also provided numerous other table games that were illegal. Chinese authorities confirm that the club was highly organized, offer excellent services and had a VIP list of customers. The club had a total of 17 gaming tables and two VIP rooms for its patrons.

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The club was a popular place for VIP gamblers and other elite gamblers that were well educated and financially very sound. Police found that 90 percent of its registered members were university educated and held advanced degrees. Police detained around 140 individuals comprised of both gamblers and casino employees and also arrested 21 gang members who were suspected of running the illegal poker club.

Gambling is legalized only in Macau but games of skill are allowed in some provinces of China. Poker is considered a game of skill or a mind game and is allowed to be played at certain places in Mainland China. In recent times, China has hosted poker tournaments by organizations such as Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT) and while regulations have been very strict, these poker tournaments have been successful in obtaining a license.

However even though these poker events and establishments operate under a license, they are still targeted by the authorities as Beijing is in the middle of a strict anti-corruption campaign which has intensified in recent months as the police crackdown on all suspected cases of illegal gambling. This is exactly what happened when PokerStars conducted its APPT Nanjing Millions in Nanjing during April 2015and ran into trouble after it was raided by the authorities who claimed that illegal gambling was taking place. The tournament in the end was cancelled due to the raid and buy-in money was returned.

This latest case of the Wuhan PK365 poker club fronting for illegal gambling operations could disturb the status quo for other poker clubs in China. It might prod the authorities to pay even closer attention to these legally authorized poker clubs in China and clamp down on all poker related activities.

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