France’s long-suffering online poker market will get no help from the outside world after politicians rejected sharing liquidity with other European countries.
Despite pleas from local gambling regulator ARJEL, the French National Assembly declined to approve gambling law amendments that would have allowed French-licensed online poker operators to share liquidity with licensed operators in other European Union regulated markets.
This is the second time that legislators have scuttled ARJEL’s attempts to shore up the regulated online poker market. In 2013, French legislators justified their rejection by musing that online poker’s decline was a global phenomenon resulting from poker falling “out of fashion” and so there was little point taking steps to prop up this corpse.
Hopes were slightly higher this time around after Emmanuel Macron, minister of the Economy, Finance and Industry, said he was willing to work with ARJEL to craft a proposal that legislators would find acceptable, but it appears this particular Gordian knot is a right bitch to untie.
Last June, ARJEL released a report detailing the challenges – high taxes, limited gambling options, ring-fenced poker rooms – that convinced half of the original licensees to exit the regulated market since its launch in 2010. Within days of ARJEL’s report, PKR announced it too was abandoning the “particularly difficult’ French poker market because operations there were “no longer viable.”
There are now just 10 licensed online poker operators in France, and only two – Winamax and PokerStars – are believed to be actually making any money from their French operations.
The regulated French online poker market saw both overall revenue and active customer ranks decline 4% in 2015, the third consecutive year of falling figures. While tournament entry fees have improved, cash game stakes have taken a pounding, and help is definitely not on the way.