An effort to implement playerpool sharing between the French online poker community and the rest of Europe may have taken another step forward this week.
Although news of bill signed by 22 Deputies in the French parliament has raised player’s expectations, it’s the change of tone from the country’s Economy Minister, Emmanuel Macron, which has given the industry the biggest glimmer of hope.
Since online poker was regulated in France back in 2012, the industry has experienced a gradual decline with revenues across all the major sites dropping almost on a monthly basis.
High tax rates for players and operators have played a part in the decline of French poker, but the lack of liquidity has also hurt the economy.
Unlike other regulated markets, such as the UK, that have recently introduced national igaming laws, French players aren’t permitted to grind against players from international playerpools. Despite calls for change, the French government and ARJEL haven’t yet agreed on a way to successfully implement such a system.
The latest attempt to improve the state of French online poker is a proposed digital bill which would adjust the current legislation. Approved by 22 politicians, the bill would allow “an operator [that] holds a license under section 21 to propose that players registered on the site can play [in] games with the players on the site of a controlled operator by another authority of a Member State of the European Union or a State.”
Unfortunately, it looks as though this amendment has already fallen at the first hurdle. Despite a number of ministers supporting the policy, Macron has wielded his axe of doom and started the process of rejecting the bill. However, although the latest attempt may fail, it does seem to have prompted a change of heart in Macron and his colleagues.
In a statement regarding the proposed changes, the Economy Minister hinted that he is working on a deal with ARJEL that would open up the country’s igaming borders.
“We are working with the gaming regulatory authority online, ARJEL, which is the authority on these matters it is from this perspective, rather than by a sectoral approach, that we want to address this issue,” Macron said.
Quite what this means is unclear at present, but some have suggested the latest bill could receive a pass if it’s attached to a more appropriate piece of legislation due for a hearing in the French parliament.
Another potential reason for France’s willingness to consider playerpool liquidity sharing is the new initiative between Nevada and Delaware. In much the same way that French players are limited to the players they can compete against, grinders in Nevada and Delaware residents can only play against residents of their respective states.
These restrictions have contributed to both states struggling with regards to online poker revenue, but Nevada Governor, Brian Sandoval, believes a deal to share player will address this issue. Operators in both states are currently preparing a series of improved prizepools and once the “technical glitches” are worked out, the new system could be up and running within four to six weeks.
If this initiative proves successful then it could prompt other insular markets, such as France, to implement changes to their current set-ups.