The continued decline of the online poker economy in France was on display for all to see last night after the country’s leading operator, Winamax, was forced to offer discounts for its flagship tournament.
Online poker has been on a steady decline in France for the last five years thanks to the government’s decision to ring fence local players and impose a sizeable tax levy on French-facing operators.
Although the market initially flourished and hit a peak value of €6.5 billion ($7.4 billion) in 2011, it has since been hit by a sustained downswing that saw its annual revenue drop by 30.8 percent to just €4.5 billion ($5.1 billion) in 2014.
Despite calls by mainstream media publications, such as Le Monde, in France calling for the government to act now and avoid a disaster, the market has continued to struggle in 2015.
In a bid to limit the negative impact of the market’s decline, Winamax recently signed a sponsorship deal with soccer club, FC Nantes.
Currently playing in Ligue 1 (France’s top-tier soccer league), FC Nantes are one of the country’s leading teams and it was hoped the sponsorship deal would give Winamax some much needed exposure.
Unfortunately, however, such marketing efforts appear to have fallen short.
Earlier this week the operator was forced to offer a 50 percent discount to its weekly major: the €100,000 ($114,450) Winamax Main Event.
Traditionally comprised of three starting days where players are able to buy-in for €150 ($171) before moving on to Day 2 on Tuesday.
The multi-day entry structure was designed to give as many people as possible the chance to ante-up so that the guarantee could be met. However, this week the number of Day 1A entrants hit an all-time low of 277 players.
This shortfall was enough to force the organizers to make a drastic move and offer players the chance to buy-in for just €75 ($85). Although the offer was only available until 11:30pm local time on Monday, it was enough to show that Winamax, moreover French online poker, is having a tough time at the moment.
Moreover, although the deal may have only been a one-off, it could have a long term impact on the running of the tournament in the future. If players become concerned that such a move may be made again in the future, it could prompt them to delay registering until Day 1C in the hope that they can get in for a discounted price.
If this were to happen then it would cause further problems for Winamax and its weekly major. Overall, as it stands, online poker in France appears to be in dire need of reform if sites such as Winamax are going to survive.