France's Biggest iPoker Tournaments Not Reaching Guarantees

France's Biggest iPoker Tournaments Not Reaching GuaranteesThe French iPoker market has been in steady decline since regulation was introduced in 2010, and this is currently reflected in the dwindling tournament numbers of the country’s two biggest sites, Winamax and PokerStars. The problem becomes even more acute when one considers that the prize pool guarantees they are offering are not being reached, and while the site’s still benefit from the publicity, it is still a worrying trend that will concern both companies.
Last weekend, for instance, PokerStars only managed to attract 4,109 players to its flagship €230 ($261) buy-in Sunday Million event, a tournament which at one stage regularly drew more than 5,000 players. Needless to say, that figure fell short of the prize pool guaranteed by PokerStars, which had to then make up the difference itself. Similarly, the Winamax Series €150 ($170) Main Event attracted 6,749 players, down from 7,700 players a year earlier, and once again the operator had to dip into its own money to honor the guarantee.
Several reasons have been suggested for waning interest in the French poker market, and while the country’s regulator ARJEL highlights an overall decline in the game’s popularity, it also overlooks the role it has played in creating an unattractive iPoker environment. This includes imposing restrictive taxes on operators, as well as organizing a ring-fenced player pool instead of throwing in its lot with other big European markets, such as Italy and Spain. Commenting on the issue, gaming lawyer Giulio Coraggio said:
“The online poker market is facing considerable difficulties worldwide and in countries like Italy, Spain, and France the impact of such crisis might even be higher given that they are closed loop markets. But if international liquidity sharing will be allowed, the scenario might change considerably.”
In the regulated French market, is still the largest operator with an average of 1,150 cash game players over a 7-day period, and 2,473 during peak times, while for its main competitor,, that number drops to 750 players, and 1,832 at peak times. A distant third is (450), followed by (300).

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