Amaya Gaming’s recent takeover of PokerStars won’t affect the online poker site’s standing in France, according to a spokesperson from ARJEL.Â Following the $4.9 billion buyout of PokerStars by Amaya, the company’s legal team has been busy discussing the future of its new poker platform with France’s primary gaming regulatory body.
Despite having one eye on the US market, Amaya has been forced to clarify its position with a number of licensing bodies, including ARJEL. In total, PokerStars holds ten gambling licenses from its bases in the Isle of Man and Malta, as well as regional licenses in Spain, France, Italy, Belgium and Denmark, all of which must now be reviewed.
In line with official regulations, Amaya sent a new license application to ARJEL on June 23, just ten days after it agreed to the purchase of PokerStars.Â As a matter of formality, the takeover was seen as a “change in indirect control,” according to ARJEL.Â Once the application had been assessed, the change of ownership was deemed to be one that “does not affect [PokerStars’] technical, economic and financial capacity to carry out its activity,” said an ARJEL spokesperson.
One of the major concerns ARJEL considered when assessing the new application is the protection of player funds.Â Following the revelation that Full Tilt had failed to segregate player funds from its operating capital prior to Black Friday, ARJEL stipulated that any licensed site in France must segregate its funds henceforth.Â Fortunately, PokerStars had already adopted this policy across all of its online platforms and has been at the forefront of efforts to make this an industry standard.
Although PokerStars will now operate in the French market under the watchful eye of Amaya Gaming, it will have some work to do if it’s going to catch the market leader there, Winamax.
In the present climate, that certainly won’t be an easy task, as not Winamax.fr currently has a 24-hour peak that’s, on average, 200 players higher than PokerStars.fr. Moreover, the French poker economy is currently experiencing a downswing.Â Thanks to high tax rates for both players and operators, the market has declined almost month-on-month since 2012. Further to this, reports from June 2014 showed that cash game revenues in France have dropped 19 percent in recent months, taking the market to its lowest point since 2010.
Although the latest round of figures is unlikely to inspire PokerStars’ new owners, it doesn’t seem to have deterred them from planning ventures into new markets, including the US, in the coming months.