PokerStars, PartyPoker Approved for French Licenses

Is a New Poker-World Order beginning to take shape?

by , Jun 29, 2010 | 4:38 am

The bad news: People in France were recently blocked — just last week — from playing on PokerStars.com.

The good news: They’ll be able to play on PokerStars.fr, in a fully legal and regulated way.

They just won’t be able to play against anyone not in France … which sets up a new dynamic of what licensed and regulated online poker could look like worldwide in the not-too-distant future.

France’s regulatory body ARJEL released a list on Friday of nine more approved licensees, adding to 17 previous approvals. French parliament passed a law in October 2009 that ended its state-run online gambling monopoly, allowing up to 30 licenses for privately owned websites. PokerStars got one in this second wave of approvals, and PartyGaming got five.

The newly licensed companies and their completely legalized domains are:

LIL Managers Ltd (FriendBet.fr): sports betting
Reel Malta Ltd (PokerStars.fr): poker
Electraworks SAS (PartyBets.fr , GameBookers.fr, PartyPoker.fr, ActPoker.fr, LuckyJeux.fr): poker, sportsbetting
Gaming Iliad SAS (Chilipoker.fr): poker
Partouche Gaming France SAS (Partouche.fr): poker

[Source: eGaming Review]

The process of opening up the French market, however, has not come without criticism. Some fault ARJEL for expediting the process so certain sports books could receive licenses by June 11, thereby allowing them to take wagers before the first games of the World Cup. Others allege that attempts to legitimize the industry within France are already rife with corruption, as cronies of powerful French politicos were the ones most immediately allowed to benefit

Meanwhile, Malta has filed complaints with the EU, claiming that the French law requiring sites be licensed in France violates European Commission agreements. And established UK betting sites Betfair and William Hill have decided to abandon the French market altogether, claiming the new set-up is “protectionist” and does not adequately open the market to competition.

Others concur, saying instead of creating a competitive business environment, the new law has really just chartered an oligopoly … and one that may not look like the oligopoly original proponents of the law envisioned.

All this kinda started when French brick-and-mortar casinos weren’t happy that they were being prevented from partaking in the spoils of online gambling. Hmm. Sound familiar? And this doesn’t even begin to get into the taxes, which now stand at 2 percent of every online poker pot in France, up to a €1 max …

Here’s a good debate of the issues, on the English-language French TV show, Talking Points.

Ultimately and interestingly, the French poker world, by opening itself up to more than just a single government-run online gambling site, is indeed closing itself off to the global online poker world. And that could just be how it eventually goes worldwide … even in the United States, where INTRAstate online gambling is momentarily all the buzz from California to New Jersey to Florida.

France, of course, with these new licenses, is following in the footsteps of Italy, which already has players at the WSOP that can be seen wearing t-shirts proudly endorsing what is essentially their local online cash and tourney room, PokerStars.it. Supposedly other European countries are looking to adopt a similar model of semi-isolationism. Meanwhile there’s talk of a partnership between France and Italy that would allow players in both of these independently regulated jurisdictions to compete against each other. So …?

Good news or bad news over time, what we do know as of this weekend is that at least a few familiar online poker sites have locked down their place in the future online poker world, however it takes shape.


  • Kevin Mathers

    In a similar matter stateside, EGR has an article on a hearing this afternoon for California’s attempt at intrastate poker, SB 1485.

  • Dennis

    had friends playing on poker stars in italy and they made quite good money, maybe it’s not all bad closing off the market in a country. i mean there will be less players cause it’s limited to one country, but maybe it’s easier to make a buck because you can get to know the players on those sites quicker and know who you can beat and who’s robbing you blind every time you share a table. i at least look forward to play on http://partypokerfrance.com