World Poker Tour Eyes Macau for Asian Tournaments

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The World Poker Tour (WPT) World Championship wrapped up at the Wynn Las Vegas in December after another solid series of events. Already recognized as one of the top poker tournament organizers in the world, the WPT is now eyeing a return to Macau after an extended absence from the city.

Rebuilding Macau's Poker Scene

WPT CEO Adam Pliska expressed his enthusiasm for the prospect in an exclusive interview with media outlet Inside Asian Gaming (IAG). In it, Pliska revealed plans to visit Macau in early 2024 to explore opportunities for hosting a major poker tournament series.

Macau's gaming landscape has experienced significant changes since border restrictions were eased a year ago. Several casinos have reopened their poker rooms, but tournament poker has remained sidelined since the PokerStars Live room at City of Dreams ceased operations in early 2018.

Several factors are contributing to the absence of large-scale poker events in Macau. One notable challenge is the Chinese special administrative region (SAR) government's table cap, which restricts the number of gaming tables each casino can operate. This restriction incentivizes casinos to prioritize higher-yield casino games, making it difficult to allocate resources for poker tournaments.

Past events in Macau have attracted substantial participation. The Macau Millions, held at PokerStars Live in April 2018, shortly before the room's closure, garnered a Main Event field of 2,499 players, demonstrating the city's potential for hosting large-scale poker tournaments.

Pliska acknowledged the structural issues in Macau, particularly regarding dealer resources, but conveyed the WPT's unwavering commitment to overcoming these challenges. He stated that the organization is dedicated to working with the government and other stakeholders to ensure a successful event.

Poker Growing in Asia

Pliska further emphasized Asia's growing importance for the WPT. In 2023, the organization hosted events in Australia, Cambodia, India and Taiwan, and is preparing to host its first-ever WPT Cambodia main tour stop at NagaWorld later this month.

The legality of poker tournaments in Asia remains a gray area, as evidenced by the recent cancellation of an Asian Poker Tour series in Hanoi, Vietnam. The APT Hanoi Billions was shut down eight days into its scheduled 10-day run in December amid allegations it was in violation of local gambling laws. Without warning, players were turned away, and no explanation was offered for the sudden closure.

While there are still legal uncertainties surrounding poker tournaments in certain Asian countries, Pliska expressed optimism about the WPT's prospects in Macau. He recognized the growing demand for poker in the region and expressed confidence in the organization's ability to navigate the legal and regulatory landscape to make a successful return to the city.

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