Friday December 20,2013 : NO ONLINE POKER PLAYER SHARING FOR THE FRENCH
National Assembly politicians reject regulator's recommendation to improve player liquidity.
Regulators from France, Spain and Italy have been discussing the practical need to increase player liquidity in their ring-fenced regulatory regimes by pooling their poker players for months, but on Wednesday the concept – recommended to France's lawmakers by regulator ARJEL – was shot down…and without much debate.
The politicians chose isolation rather than permitting French licensed operators to create a larger and more international pool by sharing with other EU licensed operators.
According to reports on the session, the negative vote was led by Committee on Economic Affairs rapporteur Razzy Hammadi, who rather melodramatically characterised online poker as an "uncontrollable ogre” and dismissed the failing French online poker market as a phenomenon created by the fact that poker has fallen from fashion.
In doing so he appears to have disregarded the views of most experts, the regulator, and operators exiting the French market, who have repeatedly said that high taxation and a limited player pool lie at the root of the trouble with French online poker.
Responding to an amendment allowing shared player pools presented by committee member Damien Abat, Hammadi said:
"There are two ways to understand the tightening of the market. We could simply realise that despite significant investments in advertising and development, poker has now gone a little out of fashion, or we could at the same time consider that the need of an everyday greater liquidity is part of online poker’s economical structure. As a rapporteur, I am against that as it brings to my mind the idea of [online poker] becoming an uncontrollable ogre eating one market after the other."
French industry observers are speculating that the recently announced resignation of France's chief regulator, Jean-François Vilotte, who still had two years of his contract to run may be the result of this sort of political disregard for ARJEL's carefully considered recommendations on player pooling and a more reasonable taxation burden.