French poker revenue down despite late surge; VIP Poker Room signs pros

Flag of FranceA strong finish towards the end of the year reignited poker revenue in France, but according to French regulator ARJEL, even the late uptick wasn’t enough to get revenue up to black, closing the year down 5% from their 2011 numbers.

Some French folks will take that 5% drop and run away with it given the current economic spate spreading over Europe these days. But in the end, the thin profit margins from the French market has only exacerbated the difficulties in maintaining a market share for these operators. And it has shown as seven licensed operators have already packed up their bags and left the market, leaving only 16 of the 23 licensed operators still in the market.

High taxes are unquestionably the biggest thorn in the side of operators, and has also hurt revenue from cash games, “forcing” players to take their chips and play in tournaments instead. According to ARJEL, the numbers reflect the switch to tourneys as cash game activity dropped 5% whereas players signing up for tournaments have significantly increased to 21%.

Despite the downturn in numbers, poker’s popularity in France doesn’t appear to be waning, showing an increase of 2% in the number of online poker players at the regulated sites, a number that, if not surprising given the decline of poker traffic in the world, shows the relative popularity the game has had in France.

But despite its popularity, operators can only do so much with the stranglehold of high taxes and combined with the weak European economy. Maybe if these guys relaxed their taxes a little bit, they can see those revenue numbers out of that stinkin’ red zone.

VIP Poker Room prepares for launch by inking first members of Pro Ambassador Team

Poker signings have been the rage these days and VIP Poker Room is joining in on the fun by inking the first members of its Pro Ambassador Team. Though not as popular as an industry heavyweight like PokerStars, the soon-to-launch Montreal-based poker outfit did acquire some pretty known names led by Team PokerStars Pro Eugene Katchalov, Will “The Thrill” Failla, Ylon Schwartz, and Mike “GoLeafsGoEh” Leah.

VIP Poker Room owner MItchell Horne commented on the recent signings where he was all giddy about the pros his company has assembled to be ambassadors for his brand. “They are outstanding players and incredible people whom others enjoy playing poker with, he said. “Our pros will enhance players’ experiences when they come play poker at VIP.”

With less than a month away from their grand opening, VIP Poker Room is determined to kick off festivities with a bang, offering a $100,000-guarantee tournament and to go with a $5,000 buy-in Player’s Championship event. As intriguing as those tournaments are, the prizes for the winners are pretty sweet. In addition to the cash prize, the winners will also receive a custom bracelet and watch designed and created by Jacob the Jeweler.