France Rejects Online Poker Pooling Despite Sharp Revenue DeclinesDecember 27, 2013 4:46 pm
The French authorities have rejected a call by the country’s online poker regulator ARJEL to allow French online poker sites to pool their players with fellow European countries Spain and Italy in order to increase liquidity.
A regulated online poker industry was launched in France back in 2010, but a sharp double-digit decline in revenues in France and other European countries has since had domestic markets looking to reverse the constant dramatic decrease in player numbers.
Nevertheless, any such amendments to the law on gambling were rejected by the National Assembly, with many legislators in the French government expressing extreme anti-online poker views, including one member of parliament, Razzy Hammadi (photo), stating he believed “poker is going out of date”. Another concern expressed was that pooling France’s online players with other European countries may have led to an upsurge in players wanting to engage in online gambling, with Razzy Hammadi, explaining:
“There are two ways to understand the tightening of the market. We could simply realize that despite significant investments in advertising and development, poker has now gone a little out of fashion, or we could at the same time consider that the need of an everyday greater liquidity is part of online poker’s economic structure. As a rapporteur, I am against that as it brings to my mind the idea of online poker becoming an uncontrollable ogre eating one market after the other.”
Following the decision of the French National Assembly to reject shared European liquidity, French Global Poker Index owner Alex Dreyfus, weighed in on the development, calling the arguments posed by government officials as ridiculous and uninformed. Dreyfus was also keen to highlight that an increase of liquidity would have been a win-win situation as it would have helped generate higher taxes for the government and more winnings for the players.
It now remains to be seen whether Italy and Spain will still work on a plan to share their player pools. However, up until now regulators in Spain, France and Italy have failed to differentiate poker from other gambling games, which may not bode well for the future.