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France Rejects Pooling Online Poker With Other Countries

The French government has rejected a call by the country’s leading gaming regulator to allow French online poker player pools to join forces with gaming pools of fellow European countries in order to increase liquidity.

ARJEL, the gaming regulator of France, put forward the idea after constant decreases in player numbers and overall gross revenues for French-based online poker and gaming operators. However, that idea was rejected outright by the country’s government, which contains a number of figures who are against online gambling.

One of those figures is young rising star Razzy Hammadi, who holds an influential position in the government’s Committee for Economic Affairs. Hammadi has voiced his staunch opposition to online gaming in France in the past and he used a hearing on the French player pool proposal to reiterate his anti-online poker views.

“There are two ways to understand the tightening of the market,” he said. “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.”

A sharp decline in revenues in the French online poker market came about in 2013, as well as the online gaming markets in the vast majority of European nations. Overall, online poker revenue in France decreased by 17 percent in the third quarter of this year, with the previous two quarters also marking similar declines.

It is currently unclear what the numbers for the last quarter of the year will be, but expectations are that it will be much of the same. France’s southern neighbour, Spain, also had double digit declines in its online poker revenues this year.

Pooling France’s online players with countries such as Spain and Italy may have led to greater numbers of players wanting to engage in online games such as poker as there would have been increased competition.

The idea of pooling online poker players among countries was also viewed favourably by Spain’s online gaming regulator. However, with the French government throwing out any possibility of such a plan, it is highly unlikely that the idea will get off the ground in the future.

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