Online Poker Continues Decline in France

ARJEL, the French online gambling regulator, online poker declines

ARJEL, the French online gambling regulator, appears to have given up on its online poker market, as figures continue to decline. (Image: onlinebettingsites.com)

French online gambling regulator ARJEL released its Q1 gross gaming revenue figures this week, and the picture remains bleak for poker.

While online poker continues to attract the most players and generate a higher level of turnover than other forms of online gambling, it also yields the lowest level of gross gaming revenue.

France’s cash game traffic has been in freefall since 2011, and so it continues: ARJEL reported that average active weekly player numbers fell 6 percent to 246,000 in Q1, down from a peak of 300,000 active players in 2011.

Gross gaming revenue for poker fell by 7 percent, to €61 million ($68.7 million), with cash game spend plummeting 15 percent to €1 billion ($1.12 billion). This despite a 5 percent increase in tournament entry fees.

Losses Offset by Sportsbetting

The country’s poor online poker performance was largely offset by robust growth in sportsbetting, which allowed total gross gaming across all verticals to climb to €190 million ($214 million), a 3 percent year-on-year increase.

Unfortunately, ARJEL appears to have given up in its own online poker market since it opted to ring-fence player pools and tax operators too highly following its online gambling reforms of 2010.

France had the chance to make things right in 2012 when the possibility of a trans-European player pool-sharing initiative with Spain, Italy and the UK was proposed, but ultimately vetoed by the French government.  

Now, Charles Coppolani, the head of ARJEL, merely offers a Gallic shrug in the face of online poker’s downward spiral, claiming that the game is a “fad” that is “over,” and that it is “too complicated for a rather young audience.”

Partypoker France Grows 2 Percent

Despite the ailing state of the online poker industry in France, however, Partypoker France appears to be going from strength to strength. While the rest of the French market has continued to decline, cash game traffic on the platform has increased by roughly two percent over the last year.

The transformation has taken place because bwin.party migrated Partypoker France to its new software platform around a year ago, along with all of its other French brands, so that they now share the same consolidated player pool.

In fact, Partypoker France now accounts for 27 percent of all cash game traffic across the entirety of bwin.party’s poker operations.

The once-mighty Partypoker, meanwhile, is now responsible for only 60 percent of all bwin.party’s poker traffic, with cash game player numbers for the .com platform falling 31 percent on the year.

Essentially, this means that Partypoker France is growing faster than its parent, despite operating in an underperforming market, which speaks volumes about the effectiveness of consolidating player pools.

ARJEL would do well to take notice of this.

Philip Conneller
Written by
Philip Conneller
As part of the team that launched Bluff Magazine back in 2004, and then as Editor of Bluff Europe, Philip Conneller has (probably) written thousands of articles about poker and has travelled the globe interviewing the greatest players in the world, not to mention some of the sexiest celebrities known to man in some of the world’s sexiest destinations. The highlight of his career, however, was asking Phil Ivey (as a joke) how to play jacks, and emerging none-the-wiser. Philip once won $20,000 with 7-2 offsuit. He has been told off for unwittingly playing Elton John’s piano on two separate occasions, on different sides of the Atlantic Ocean. He became a writer because he is a lousy pianist. He lives in London where he spends his time agonizing about Arsenal football club, yet in Wenger he trusts.

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