Partouche.fr will close its virtual doors prior to this summer season in what may result in a call for French gaming regulators to make changes in the country’s rigid tax structure and ring-fenced player base.
Currently ranked 36th on PokerScout’s worldwide rankings with a seven-day average of 167 cash game players, Partouche.fr trails other French sites in player traffic such as Winamax, PokerStars.fr, both iPoker and PartyPoker’s France offerings, and Barrierepoker.fr.
Group Partouche has come under heavy criticism in recent months beginning last year when the popular Partouche Poker Tour failed to reach its guaranteed €5 million prize pool and group chairman Patrick Partouche attempted to renege on the guarantee. After being pressured by angry poker players and the media, Partouche decided to kick in the additional €736,880 to honor the €5 million commitment. But in an angry tirade, Partouche cancelled the tour following the 2012 season.
Another controversy erupted earlier this year when pokerenligne.com was first to broadcast a video that allegedly shows the top two finishers in the 2009 Partouche Poker Tour Main Event cheating by using hand signals to reveal their hole cards to each other. Jean-Paul Pasqualini and Cedric Rossi collected a combined €1,600,000 by soft-playing each other until they were the last two remaining players.
That discovery followed German player Ali Tekintamgac being kicked off the final table of the 2010 Main Event also for cheating. Tekintamgac was in cahoots with others posing as journalists who fed him information about his opponents’ hole cards via hand signals. Tekintamgac and his chips were removed from the final table and the remaining eight players finished the event.
The latest issue to sully the Partouche name ocurred less than three months ago when French regulator ARJEL announced that Group Partouche was under investigation for permitting employees and family members to play at Partouche.fr and receive cash rewards and free entries to tournaments. Regulators scrutinized 40 accounts for possible improprieties.
The demise of Partouche.fr was first reported on PokerUpdate as early as September of last year. Rampant rumors circulated that the site was on the outs. The controversies that followed appear to have sealed the fate of Group Partouche and their French poker site, as evidenced by posters on 2 + 2 and a poker52 article.
Poker rooms in France are subject to strict regulations that include a heavy tax rate and a player pool confined within French borders. There has been talk of the need to allow for increased liquidity and a relaxing of the tax structure to allow for greater profitability for operators.