Amaya Gaming, the pretty little duckling that turned into a magnificent swan, almost overnight, is now the official owner of the French subsidiary of PokerStars.
French regulator, ARJEL, rubber stamped the ownership switch that was submitted to them just days after the Canadian gaming company announced their intention to acquire The Rational Group for $4.9bn.
The Red Spade owns 10 online licenses alongside the regional licenses that it holds in such European countries as Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy and Spain, and it is the market leader in all but one of these countries – France.
Winamax hold 33% of that market with PokerStars France slightly behind with 31%. PartyPoker France (15%) and iPoker France (12%) are the other major networks in a unusually competitive marketplace, and it’s felt that PartyPoker will impinge upon some of that market in the coming months.
The French online market is a notoriously difficult one for online poker networks to make a profit due to the ridiculous tax regime that exists in the land of garlic, towers and glass pyramids.
The current process of taking a 2% tax on all bets is akin to operating a full annual tax rate in the region of 37%, and operators have been crying out for a while now to be pitched more towards the 20% area which would bring France in line with Denmark, albeit still higher than the likes of the UK.