You’ve got to love the French. And I’m not talking about the women, although you’ve got to love them – quite literally, if you get half the chance. The other reason you’ve got to admire our cross-channel cousins is the way they for always manage to get their way – even if half the time it means you can’t get to Provence for that dirty weekend in Paris due to the streets of Calais being lined with lorries that have been set ablaze by truckers pissed off at pensions, the price of eggs or the rain.
It’s their default mechanism. Like insisting on speaking to you in pigeon English when you try to speak to them in perfectly acceptable French. Or shrugging their shoulders when you ask them why they are fucking their best friend’s wife when he’s out of town. When they are unhappy the French just go on strike. It’s what they do best. Even the French football team were at it when Nicolas Anelka got sent home from the World Cup for calling coach Raymond Domenech a dirty son of a whore.
So the reaction to PartyPoker’s decision to impose a ridiculously high rake of 7.5% to players using their French site PartyPoker.fr met with the obvious reaction. The players went on the website en masse, sat down at every table from 1c/2c up to €5/€10 tables and then sat out. Genius. PartyPoker got to make no money for a few hours and the French got their message across in time-honoured tradition.
In truth the so-called liberalization and regulation of the French market place was always going to have its teething problems, because to a large degree the operators themselves have their hands tied behind their backs, due to the high price they have been made to pay for a license and the astronomical taxes that have been imposed on them. Online companies have also been shut out of lucrative and low-risk casino games like blackjack and roulette as well as lotto, which have been retained by the monopoly.
However, PokerStars have not done themselves any favours here. Not only have they pissed off their customers by ringfencing their site so that players can only play in their own little Gallic ghetto, but they have tried to pull the wool over their eyes by quietly imposing a 7.5% rake, which is considerably higher than say Bwin or Winamax (both 5%), and hoping that nobody would notice. On top of that they take a rake even if there is no action pre-flop.
In the long run the hope is that the French government will see the error of its ways by reducing their prohibitive operator taxes (8.8%) which will then trickle down to the consumer. Italy had a similar baptism of fire before realising that a boat load more money would be raised in taxes if there were more customers actually playing rather than being scared off by the prices.
But, like an au pair in a French maid’s outfit, you have to say naughty, naughty to PokerStars for trying to hoodwink their customers and bravo to our no-nonsense strikers for doing what they do best.
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