Since Red Dead Redemption 2's online mode just recently left beta, there have been a ton of new updates ranging from bug fixes and balancing, to introducing new game modes. One of the newer modes added is Poker, and while the chance to play a game of cards against real people is likely more appealing than the game's single-player option with NPCs, some players are finding themselves unable to join a table with others.
Users have reported being unable to play Poker in Red Dead Online, and it looks as though the respective player's location plays a part in the matter. In areas where online gambling is considered illegal, players won't be able to join in on card games with others. Some of the controversy surrounding the restriction is that playing Poker in Red Dead Online is done with in-game currency, and the option to use real money is entirely absent.
As far as how microtransactions work in Red Dead Online at the time of this writing, gold can be purchased with real world money, however online gold has no correlation with funds used to play Poker. There could be speculation that Rockstar is blocking the feature in certain regions to make sure any future updates don't violate restrictions that force the feature to be removed later on. Plus, with the revenue stream seen from GTA Online the past five and a half years, there's a good chance the landscape of Red Dead Online won't look the same in the future.
Given its online mode just recently left beta status, it makes sense the current state of microtransactions in Red Dead Online don't drastically affect gameplay. While they're strictly cosmetic at the moment, there's always a chance in the future for Rockstar to incorporate microtransactions that would grant in-game currency for players. If this is the case, playing Poker would surely break gambling laws in these areas, hence the decision to halt any potential problems right away.
Despite the immediate backlash from players being blocked out of a popular feature, Rockstar is doing what it can to make the transition into a fully-fledged Red Dead Online as high quality as possible. Given the success of GTA Online after launch, Red Dead Redemption 2 looks to be laying the foundation for its social infrastructure as smooth as it can.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is out now on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.