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Singaporean Officials Visit Paris to Study France's Gambling Legislation


An official delegation from Singapore met earlier this month with French online gambling regulator ARJEL President Charles Coppolani to analyze France's online gambling legislation in order to see if the French policies can be adapted to Singapore's needs.

During the meeting, the delegation led by Singapore's Second Minister for Home Affairs and Second Minister for Trade and Industry S Iswaran and Singapore's ambassador in Paris Tan York Chor discussed with the French regulator policies implemented to regulate online gambling in France since 2010, when ARJEL was first established.

According to a press release issued by the French regulatory authority for online games, the meeting was requested by Singaporean authorities to learn more about France's approach to online gambling.

"Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs is highly interested to discover the experiences of different countries," the press release read. "[The Home Affairs Ministry] asked for a meeting with ARJEL's management in order to analyze the French regulatory model, which is known for its strict requirements and performance."

"Since May 2013, the [Singaporean] Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Social and Family Development are trying to identify a regulatory model for online gaming. In order to create a durable and efficient strategy for the online gaming sector, Singaporean authorities have started to work closely with different industry stakeholders and national regulators."

ARJEL's press release was met with mixed feelings by France's online poker community, as many consider the current regulatory framework to be the main cause of the decline that has been hitting the industry since new regulations began in 2010.

According to the 2014 first quarter report published by the very same ARJEL on June 10, cash game traffic within the regulated market fell by 19% year-over-year, with the turnover generated by ring games moving from a total of €72 million (2013 – Q1) to €65 million (2014 – Q1).

As pointed out by ARJEL's former president and founder Jean-François Vilotte in a PokerNews-exclusive interview published in January, the crisis of the French online poker market should be seen as the result of a combination of factors, which include also the current regulation.

"Seen from a broader perspective, this is a problem of legalized markets competing against non-legalized ones," Vilotte said. "If legalized markets won’t learn how to become more flexible and adjust themselves quicker to what people want, they will keep doing the work for illegal websites and help them to win against their legal competitors."

To question the real efficacy of France's regulation on online gambling and support Vilotte's views on the issue, France’s Observatory of Games (ODJ) and Monitoring Centre for Drugs published in February a controversial industry report that showed how around 47% of France's poker players are still choosing illegal sites for their poker games.

Asked to comment on the issue, however, ARJEL's new president Charles Coppolani explained that the decline has very little to do with the current legislation, but should be instead considered as the result of the ongoing financial crisis and the fact that "poker is no longer as popular as it used to be."

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