The format of the Nanjing Millions Main Event may have been at the origin of the police operation that halted the tournament on April 17.
According to a source familiar with the investigation, the Chinese authorities acted after a number of participants reported that the format of the Main Event, which allowed unlimited rebuys, could conflict with China's strict laws against gambling.
According to an article by Poker Asia Pacific, one of the few media outlets present at the Jiangsu Wutaishan Sports Center for the event, the idea of gambling "appears to be the key issue with the Chinese authorities." But, Poker Asia Pacific also wrote that the structure of the event was "very fair and not one that was slanted towards a need for excessive re-entries."
When contacted by PokerNews, the Nanjing police chose not to discuss any details about the investigation. The Xinhua News Agency reported that the organizers of the event are currently under police control for alleged gambling, which according to the Chinese legislation is a criminal activity since 1997.
Despite some of what has been reported during the past days, the investigation is not focused on PokerStars' alleged criminal activities in China, as the event was organized by the Star Poker Club and not by the Amaya-owned poker site. Instead, as Poker Asia Pacific pointed out, the PokerStars APPT was a sponsor of the event, similarly to how it sponsor the Aussie Millions.
As Amaya's Head of Corporate Communications Eric Hollreiser explained, "The event itself was organized and operated by a local poker operator, the Star Poker Club, and sponsored by the APPT China."
Hollreiser added also that Amaya is "in contact with Star Poker Club and are seeking additional details. The organizers have issued a statement to apologize for the inconvenience and plan to resume the tournament in the near future."
According to Poker Asia Pacific, however, there is a possibility that the event will not resume any time soon and that the participants to the first-ever Nanjing Millions will be offered a different solution.
Numbers at hand, the Nanjing Millions Main Event attracted 2,359 entrants, with 165 still in play when the police entered the tournament room to stop the competition.
One of the possibilities on the table, right now, seems to be to distribute the total prize pool of the event among all the players still in play when the Main Event was stopped, with prizes proportional to their stacks. The organizers are also evaluating the possibility to do the same also for the side events that were being played when the event was stopped by the authorities.
"The local poker operator, Star Poker Club, led by APOY champion Jian Yang, have confirmed that there were 165 players through to Day 2 of the Main Event with chip counts recorded," wrote Poker Asia Pacific. "Taking that information into account, it appears the most logical resolution is that those players will be entitled to equity in the prize pool based on their chip count, while those who were eliminated on Day 1 of the event will not be eligible for any refund. The same would apply for any of the side events that also remain incomplete. The Star Poker Club also confirmed in a statement that all funds raised from the charity event will be donated as planned."
Be sure to stay tuned to PokerNews for more news on this story as it develops.
*Lead image courtesy of PokerStars APPT.