Can Alibaba punt on Match Poker pay off in China?

Can Alibaba punt on Match Poker pay off in China?

Monday, February 29, 2016 Totally Gaming
Oceans' Shoto Zhu sees a bright future in China for the non-gambling version of poker

Match Poker is hoping to make major progress in the key Chinese market through a new strategic partnership between Oceans Sports & Entertainment, its marketing agency in the region, and Ali Sports, a subsidiary of online retail giant Alibaba Group.

The promotion of Match Poker, a non-gambling, mobile-based version of the game which is currently conducting a funding round as it seeks global expansion, has been announced as a priority project for the partnership between two of China’s biggest and most influential sports sector organisations.  

Under the agreement, Oceans will manage the on-ground event logistics and traditional marketing of Match Poker and the other sporting events in its portfolio, while Ali Sports “will introduce a comprehensive new digital ecosystem to improve the experience and value for the projects’ participants, audience, sponsors and business partners”.

Oceans chief executive Shoto Zhu told TotallyGaming.com that the partnership with the media, marketing, data and financial services powerhouse will play a significant role in driving growth of the mind sport.

“China, as a nation, has embraced mobile and new technology quicker than expected,” Zhu said. “Young people today use their mobiles constantly, not only to communicate but to purchase and to be entertained.

“Poker is an attractive game for young Chinese and having a legal, non-gambling offer will be very attractive to the Chinese market. Alibaba’s massive e-commerce operation provides an exceptional platform on which to launch this mind sport.

“We see a very competitive environment in China so the development of Match Poker clubs, leagues and tournaments offers a natural opportunity, and Alibaba will help to deliver it on a massive scale.”

The International Federation of Poker (IFP), which created Match Poker, has set a target of attracting two million players within five years, and success in the world’s most populous nation, particularly at a time when Chinese poker enthusiasts are being driven away from Macau by Beijing’s clampdown on corruption, would play a significant role in achieving that aim.

IFP president Patrick Nally said: “The alliance between Oceans and Ali Sports creates one of the most powerful forces in sports marketing anywhere in the world.

“I am delighted that their energies, attention and resources will be focused on launching and promoting Match Poker and that they share my belief in its massive worldwide potential.”

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