Rudy Rong took a seat at a table in the Commerce Casino’s poker hall, his legs jigging with nervous energy.
The 22-year-old son of Chinese video game billionaires hadn’t come here to gamble. Rong was launching a virtual reality startup, and he had arrived hours earlier to videotape a musical performance in the casino’s ballroom for an investor demo.
But as Ping An, a pop star and former contestant in the singing show Voice of China, took the mic, Rong grew anxious, left the camera running onstage and retreated downstairs to the poker tables.
As he tossed a $100 bill on the green felt, his phone’s glow illuminated bags under his eyes. His...