French iPoker Falls 5% to €54 million in Q3 2015

French iPoker Falls 5% to €54 million in Q3 2015France’s gambling regulator ARJEL has just released its latest results for the third quarter of 2015, revealing that the country’s online gambling market is still far from improving, with revenues falling by 0.3% to €176.1 million in Q3, compared to the same period of time in 2015.
The decline was more pronounced for online poker, however, which suffered a 5% drop in revenues to just €54 million, mostly due to online cash game business contracting by 20%, even while poker tournaments bounced back by an impressive 21%. SNGs are undoubtedly proving the rising star for this vertical, with buy-ins rising by 59% in Q1, followed by 73% in Q2, and then 77% in Q3.
Poker holds a special place in France’s online gambling industry, together with sports betting, and horse race wagering, as these games are considered skill-based and are thus regulated by the state. Any game not considered skillful, such as roulette, slots, and blackjack, are therefore banned in France, meaning players seeking these games usually end up visiting unregulated, offshore, sites, instead. As a consequence, it is estimated that around half the country’s gamblers currently have online accounts with these illegal operators.
French poker players turning to offshore sites has been fueled by the country’s ring-fenced player pools, as well as by the exorbitant taxes levied upon regulated online operators equal to 33% on gross gaming revenues. Squeezing the company’s margins in this way has consequently lead to less money being available for player promotions and bonuses.
While ARJEL president Charles Coppolani recently expressed an interest in introducing a number of casino games to the country’s online gambling mix, the government believes the move would be too risky and could lead to an increase in gambling related problems. As a result, Coppolani says that “the political power” is not quite ready to grant ARJEL its wishes, hinting at further declines ahead for France’s online gambling and poker industry.

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