Former Macau gangster Wan Kuok-koi has pledged to spend some of his $750 million windfall on a special poker event in China.
First reported by the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the announcement comes after the man known as Broken Tooth completed the third stage of a crypto ICO (initial coin offering).
No longer a part of the criminal underworld, Wan has launched the cryptocurrency HB token under his company World Hung Mun Investment.
Wan Sells 450 Million HB Tokens
With 500 million tokens available, the former Triad has sold 450 million during three public events in Cambodia, Thailand and the Philippines. The initial sale has netted Wan’s company $750 million, a small portion of which will be used to fund a poker and chess tournament.
Thanks to a partnership with investment firm Zhonggongxin Cosmos, Wan will host the gaming event in Hainan on a date yet to be announced in October. Although the details are somewhat unclear at this stage, it’s been reported that the prize money will be equivalent to $1.4 million and will be paid out to winners in HB tokens.
In addition to the live event, the new partnership will give Wan a financial stake in eight poker sites operating in China. The websites in question are run by Zhonggongxin Cosmos and reportedly offer two types of poker as well as chess thanks to exclusive authorization from the government.
However, when pressed on the issue by SCMP reporters, Wan was reluctant to provide further details on the deal.
Potential Reprisal Doesn’t Faze Former Gangster
Hosting poker tournaments is notoriously dicey proposition. In 2015, PokerStars’ Nanjing Millions was shut down midway through the main event after local authorities declared the tournament illegal.
Since then, the Chinese government outlawed free-play social poker apps in June 2018. Despite the moves against poker, the organizers believe that paying players with HB tokens will circumvent China’s anti-gambling laws.
“When chess and poker games are paid with tokens such as cryptocurrencies that can be converted to fiat currencies, it becomes a disguised form of gambling in China,” Su Guojing, founder of the China Lottery Industry Salon, told SCMP when questioned on the issue.
While ties with a former gang member may not bode well for poker’s future in China, the industry’s growing links with the crypto world are a sign of the times. For players at least, this culture of crossover investments could result in a healthy payday later this year.