French Online Poker Regulation - Summary

Analysis and articles | estimated reading time
2010. July 22. |
National level regulation for online poker and betting had been ’under construction’ for years in France when, to the great joy of the betting companies, sports betting licences were finally released short before the football World Cup.

Online poker licences were also issued soon enough: by 1 July 2010 the most important online poker companies on the French market were given the necessary permissions and the competition for the favour of the French poker player community went under way. Here I wish to summarise the reactions of the two rooms with the highest French player count, PokerStars.fr and EverestPoker.fr, as well as the possibilities for international players in this new situation.


The French regulation

On 6 April 2010, the French Parliament passed the resolution legalising online gambling, and the French gambling authority, ARJEL (Autorité de Régulation des Jeux En Ligne), accredited the poker companies during June. The newly introduced law limited online gambling to licensed companies in France. French poker players were left with few alternatives to obey the regulation, as they were consequently banned from almost all the major online poker networks and rooms, regardless of being licensed or not. Accredited companies had to expel them from the .com rooms and open new, .fr ones.

 

A tax of 2% on all cash game pots and tournament buy-ins are to be paid for the state, meaning a maximum of €1/pot in cash games and ’no limit’ in the case of tournaments, significantly diminishing the profit and the promotions/marketing resources of the rooms previously working with an average rake of 5%. Some of the licensed companies decided on paying the tax from their profit, while others raised their rake, basically charging the taxes to the players.

 

Theoretically, foreign players are allowed in the .fr rooms, as the law does not forbid it as of yet. Let us see, how PokerStars and Everest Poker handle the situation.


PokerStars.fr

PokerStars.fr chose the way of redirecting its grown expenses almost entirely onto the players. Of course, this led to an enormous outcry from the poker community, who resorted to organising a boycott and successfully thwarted gameplay on the site. The result was PokerStars.fr reducing the rake overall and dropping the 2%, max €1 rake on no-flop hands. Their cash game 6max-9max rake structure is currently 7,69%, max €3,5 (simplified), meaning an estimated 40-50% rise in rake, compared to PokerStars.com.

 

PokerStars confirmed that international players from abroad are allowed in their .fr room, as long as they send copies of their ID documents and possess an EU bank account for payouts. Deposits can be transferred in the usual ways but payouts may only go to EU accounts, after validated. To sum up, this means a lot more red tape.

EverestPoker.fr

The French market plays a lot more significant role for EverestPoker than for PokerStars, since it provides 30% of their total player number, while it is only a few percents in the case of PS. EP thus makes great efforts to successfully position themselves with their .fr room, while they also have to strive to keep their .com room, now experiencing a 30-40% drop, competitive on the international market. The odds are in their favour, though, as the owner of the company, Mangas Gaming, who also owns Expect Poker, Bet-At-Home and BetClic, rallied its French players in the EverestPoker.fr room and plans to do the same with its entire international network, uniting their rooms under EverestPoker.com. As opposed to PokerStars, EP did not raise its rake significantly, but is thus forced to pay the taxes from its profits.


International players are allowed in EverestPoker.fr as well, but are subjected to a prolonged checking process and required to validate themselves and their bank accounts. Administration is as tiresome as ever.

Notes of interest

In principle, foreigners are allowed in the PokerStars.fr as well as in the EverestPoker.fr rooms. Is it worth though? Let us consider the reasons.

 

1) The major argument in favour of the .fr rooms is probably the French players’ reputation of being fish. But is that really the case? According to the latest statistics by nationalities from PokerTableRatings, including figures from Full Tilt Poker and PartyPoker before the 2010 ban, the French are indeed loosing and are great in numbers; nevertheless, countries like Australia, Canada and Great Britain are not far behind. They are thus below the average in skill so the “French = epic fish” equation is excessive at best.
Though the overwhelming rate of French players in these rooms might still be tempting, if international players are kept being allowed, this ratio will probably change a lot.

 

2) The regulations are expected to be easily changed in the near future; it is in a ‘test phase’ right now, where modifications might be imminent and international players can still be excluded. They are currently hardly in correspondence with EU principles though: France does not allow its players to play on other EU sites but foreigners are welcome in the .fr rooms...

3) The player count is far below that of the major international rooms. According to PokerScout, the situation is as follows:

 

French Online Poker Regulation
Note: Both PokerStars.fr and EverestPoker.fr has a player
count close to those of the middle-sized international networks.


French Online Poker Regulation


Conclusion

 

It is up to you to decide whether the pros or the cons are of more importance but under the present circumstances, I believe it is not advised to play in .fr rooms. If you took your chances nevertheless, you are absolutely free to do so.

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