The French poker community could be heading for more prosperous times if a new piece of legislation gets the green light from the European Commission.
Online poker has been a regulated industry in France since 2008, but through a combination of high taxation and declining player pools it’s gradually contracted year-on-year.
Although the most recent figures released by French online poker regulator ARJEL showed a 2 percent increase in revenue €62 million ($70 million), this is a minor spike in an otherwise disappointing eight years of regulation.
However, following the Senate’s decision to allowing player pool sharing back in May, there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon.
After amending Section II or Article 14 in the country’s gambling laws, France has now submitted the changes to the European Commission (EC).
If these changes are approved by the EC it will move France a step closer to liquidity sharing that could boost player numbers and, ultimately, the revenue generated by the industry as a whole.
Even if the EC gives the amendments its seal of approval, that will be just the start of the hard work for ARJEL.
As well as amending Article 14, there has also been a change to the wording of Article 34. Focusing on the way Internet companies share data across borders, the amendment will impose a strict code of practice on France and any poker partners it chooses to work with.
Essentially, for a country to be accepted as an iGaming partner it will need to have its own regulations in place and be prepared to share information and documents to ensure criminal activities such as fraud and money laundering aren’t possible.
Of course, even if player pool sharing becomes a reality and liquidity at sites like Winamax.fr and PokerStars.fr is improved, that doesn’t guarantee a French poker revolution.
While there’s certainly a thirst for Internet gambling across the country, as evidenced by continued gains in the online sports betting market, high taxes appear to be strangling operators.
In fact, even though the latest reports showed a 2 percent increase in poker revenue, part of the reason for this was a slashing of bonuses given away by operators.
By reducing the amount of “free money” given away, operators have been able to improve their bottom line.
While the issue of taxation will remain a source of debate in the coming years, it’s certainly possible the player pool sharing could improve liquidity and, therefore, the health of the French online poker economy.