Is it doom and gloom in France? Some might say so, since regulated online poker has been steadily declining in France since new regulations began in 2010.
According to the first quarter report released by France’s online gaming regulator ARJEL about the country’s online poker regulated market, the number of regulated cash game players is shrinking significantly.
Cash game traffic dropped by 19 percent year over year, and perhaps even more alarming was the 28percent decline compared to two years ago. ARJEL also shared its concerns about trends in the French market by implying poker operators "are experiencing considerable losses for yet another quarter," with turnover declining from €72 million (2013 – Q1) to €65 million (2014-Q1) representing a loss of 10 percent.
Cash game traffic has also declined by 26 percent, based on a seven-day moving average of concurrent cash game seats filled, since temporarily peaking in the beginning of March according to a PokerFuse report. This decline can be partially attributed to seasonality with less players playing during the warm months of the summer.
Is there light at the end of the tunnel?
While the declines in cash game traffic concerning, the same hasn’t been true with tournament poker. Total buy-ins have increased nine percent from €375 million (2013 – Q1) to €407 million (2014-Q1), implying a portion of the cash game traffic can be attributed to players playing more tournaments instead of ring games.
Another sign that the French market has hope is that not all the gaming operators have been experiencing declines. Even though Winamax and PokerStars.fr who currently dominate the French regulated market and are the biggest drivers of the decline have had better times, things have never been better at partypoker.fr. According to PokerScout, French online cash game traffic marketshare increased from 12 percent a year ago to 16 percent now.
French regulated poker sites can also see a revival if regulators crack down on the grey market. ARJEL reported that 47 percent of French online poker players admit to play on at least one grey market site. We should expect to see a rebound if changes occurred leading these players were suddenly playing all their online poker on French regulated sites.