1/21/10 – With gambling liberalisation growing closer, the increasingly hectic French market saw yet another partnership deal between major companies taking shape this week.
The state gambling monopoly Francaise des Jeux and land casino group Lucien Barriere were reported to be teaming up to launch a seriously competitive online poker site, the newspaper Le Figaro reported.
The partnership could create complications with existing software agreements. Barriere has invested in 3D software technology evident in its launch last year of LeCroupier.com, an online gambling website. And FdJ already has a poker software deal with the US provider Cyberarts.
However, as Le Figaro opines, French politicians will want to see French companies dominating the newly liberated gambling space in the country, and will therefore likely encourage the FdJ link-up with Barriere.
Any changes to the Cyberarts deal will be closely watched by the major Greek lottery firm Intralot, which holds a 35 percent stake in the software company. A major consideration must be scaleability, an area where the Cyberarts system has been proved to excel, whereas Barriere's technology is as yet to make a (poker) impression.
Other threats of a FdJ-Barriere online poker partnership to existing online poker operators in the sector could be cross marketing possibilities and the undoubtedly large player bases of both companies, together with the ability to stage major tournaments across leading land establishments across France.
In related news, the UK-based Remote Gaming Association will be intently watching the French Senate Finance Committee vote on the liberalisation legalization which is to take place this week.
The RGA represents the interests of major online gambling companies and is unhappy with the French legalization as it currently stands, as is the European Gambling and Betting Association, which also represents big online gambling groups.
Both are said to be perturbed at some of the provisions of the regulations which they feel do not meet EU requirements for a free and open market, and the RGA has gone so far as to comment that it is considering legal action should the law in its present form be implemented. That's an initiative already taken by the Stanleybet gambling company, whose action is still in progress.
The RGA has commented that it believes the bill remains ‘disproportionately restrictive and anti-competitive' and that it violates EU law by conferring significant economic advantages upon incumbent French operators.
If the Senate Finance Committee votes the bill forward, it could be on the last lap of a full Senate debate as early as February 23rd.
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