Rockstar Games added poker to Red Dead Online when it brought the game out of beta last week, but the feature now looks to be restricted in certain regions due to varying gambling laws.
As ongoing loot box conversations have pointed out, gambling laws can be a complicated beast to deal with for games that release in countries and regions with strict regulations on the practice.
Poker games in Red Dead Online don’t use the game’s premium currency so winnings don’t have an actual real-world value, but comments collected by Kotaku seem to indicate that Rockstar is taking a better-safe-than-sorry approach toward online poker games in countries where such actions might be against the law.
Players reached out to Rockstar support after being unable to find the in-game activity and, according to transcripts of those conversations shared to Reddit, were told that “poker won’t be available in countries where online gambling is restricted or illegal.”
Other players, and Kotaku itself when reaching out to Rockstar for comment, were pointed to a note on the support site that mentions “certain features are not available at all times for all players.”
While gambling in Red Dead Online isn't directly monetized, Rockstar's decision to restrict poker play by region likely aims to avoid a future headache if regulators in those countries were to decide the mode violated gambling laws. Game companies like EA and Konami, to name a few, have had to change or remove game features that were deemed to qualify as gambling in certain countries, though typically the offending features are monetized in some way.