After months of waiting, France has finalized the bill that will allow its online poker liquidity sharing deal with other European countries to finally push through.
The French Parliament adopted—by a Senate vote—last week the Projet de loi pour une Republique numerique, or the digital bill, which advocates more open public data, better protection for users and improved access to the internet, according to French news site La Tribune.
The digital bill essentially calls for an update with a goal of making France a “country of digital.” But more than that, the digital bill will also give the country’s beleaguered online poker market its long-desired shot in the arm.
Poker players in France are only able to play against fellow countrymen or players who are visiting their country. But the digital bill allows them to join online poker games on licensed sites and play against others located in other European countries and jurisdictions.
France’s ring-fenced poker market has been in terminal decline for years, yet politicians persistently refused to grant requests by French regulator ARJEL to allow its licensees to partner with operators in other regulated markets. Italy and Spain are the most commonly cited as keen and willing partners.
In May, however, the Senate approved an amendment to the digital bill that allows ARJEL to strike reciprocal poker liquidity deals with other EU member states and jurisdictions in the European Economic Area. The amendment may have come way too late for some operators that decided to shut down their French-licensed sites due to their inability to post a profit in the heavily walled garden, but for those that are still standing, it’s only a matter of time before the bill finally becomes a law.
French President Francois Hollande is expected to sign the bill into law within 15 days.