Does Fate of Online Poker in France Rest with European Commission?

France submits gambling amendments to European Commission.

France submits gambling law amendments to the European Commission for approval. (Image: speakingofresearch.com)

Online poker in France could be set for a lift following the submission of a bill that would make player pool sharing a reality.

Following a move by the French Senate the remove the restrictions placed on players residing in France, draft legislation has been submitting to the European Commission for approval.

Since online poker was regulated in France back in 2010, the economy has gradually contracted. A combination of high taxation and limited liquidity has forced the country’s regulator ARJEL to call for player pool sharing as a way to stop the current downswing.

Politicians Blowing Hot and Cold

Although players, operators and regulators have been in favor of a bill that would make player pool sharing a reality, the start of 2016 saw politicians in the French National Assembly reject such a proposal.

However, as one door closed another one opened in May after the Senate added an amendment to its gambling regulation. The proposed alteration would basically allow operators to share players with other regulated online poker countries in Europe.

This news was seen a major step forward by ARJEL and, despite the French National Assembly still needing to give its seal of approval to the amendment, it appears as though things are moving in the right direction. 

The amendment to Section II of Article 14 has now been submitted to the European Commission and, if approved, it would move things one step closer to a positive conclusion.

Amendments to Tame a Potential Ogre

Should the amendment be approved by the European Commission and those licensed under Article 21 give the freedom to enact player pool sharing pacts, all parties will need to follow a strict code of practice.

One of the main objections for player pool sharing by the French National Assembly has been the possibility of the market turning into an “uncontrollable ogre.”

While this slightly misses the point of player pool sharing, an amendment to Article 34 of the current gambling laws has also been proposed to ensure any deals are properly monitored.

According to the official amendment, ARJEL and its equivalent in a regulated European poker market will have to share information and documents to ensure money laundering, fraud, and criminal activities aren’t possible.

Although these sorts of provisions would likely be par for the course, the amendment to Article 34 does suggest that French officials are more intent on improving player liquidity than ever before.

Of course, player pool sharing provisions won’t negate high tax rate currently imposed on operators, but it would certainly help to improve liquidity and, therefore, give sites the ability to offer more value for their players.

Daniel Smyth
Written by
Daniel Smyth
Dan Smyth is a poker media journeyman who politely reminds CardsChat readers that poker is played all around the world, not just America.

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