Fences Down: France to Desegregate Online Poker Player Pool
France's fenced-in online poker experiment appears to be over, as the country is set to move into shared liquidity with other European nations, CardsChat reported Saturday.
In 2010, France fenced in its poker players, segregating them from the rest of the worldwide player pool. What followed was a steady decline in online poker revenues in France. Cash game revenues dropped by 33 percent over a three-year period. Players were flocking to unregulated sites, with a reported 47 percent of French poker players using them, including 23.5 percent saying they played exclusively on unregulated sites.
Online player pool tracker PokerScout lists a number of French licensed poker offerings. None of them boast a seven-day average of more than 1,000 players, save for Winamax, which is currently at 1,100.
French gaming regulators realized the situation was unsustainable in the long term. In May, the first push began to end the fenced-in poker economy when the French Senate approved an amendment that would allow shared player liquidity. In mid-September, regulators from France and a number of other European countries met in Paris, according to OnlinePokerReport.
Things have apparently moved quickly from there. French poker players will soon be joining their brethren in regulated online games for the first time, with France's president expected to approve the measure in the coming weeks. Regulated, fenced-in poker networks also exist in Italy, Spain and Portugal. Those nations will likely be among the first to share liquidity and revenue with France.
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