French Gaming Head Calls Online Poker a “Fad,” Says It’s “Over”

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According to a variety of sources including PokerNews and Pokerfuse, the head of the French internet gambling regulator ARJEL, Charles Coppolani (pictured), called online poker a “fad” that’s “over.” The comments came in an interview with the French outlet Les Echos.

According to Pokerfuse, Coppolani said in part, “The fad is over. Basically, the online poker market may be mature.” PokerNews quoted him as saying, “ARJEL’s objective was to turn the illegal offer into a legal, regulated, and safe one for players, and here I think we reached our main goal. However, on a global scale, the market did not meet the operator’s expectations.”

The French market features Winamaxas its busiest cash game site, according to PokerScout, with a seven-day running average of 1,250 real money ring game players. Winamax has a 25% lead on PokerStars.fr, which sits in second place with 1,050 cash game players. According to PokerScout’s numbers, the two sites comprise about two-thirds of the cash game market in France.

Pokerfuse highlighted the declining market in France compared to the rest of the world: “Cash game traffic figures over the last two years show that the French market has fallen by around 15% more than the global dot-com market.” In the last year, according to PokerNews, cash game traffic in the European nation is off 19%, while tournament poker traffic is actually up 9% to offset some of the bleed.

PokerNews quoted Coppolani as saying, “The impact of the [financial] crisis is one of the reasons behind the decline of both the online poker and betting market. Both games find [it] hard to gain new players and, as for online poker, the game is also no longer as popular as it used to be. In the end, it could simply be the market is mature.”

Players from other countries can register for and play on sites like Winamax and PokerStars.fr. However, players from France can only register for regulated dot-fr poker rooms, thus limiting the choices for French customers. Winamax is #9 worldwide in terms of cash game traffic, while PokerStars.fr is #11.

Dan Stewart, Founder of PokerScout, gave PocketFives his take on the French market: “Worldwide, cash game traffic is down about 10% from last year and that’s what we see with PokerStars and PartyPoker in France. But, the market leader, Winamax, is down 25% and that’s partly due to the introduction of Expresso Poker. It’s a popular jackpot sit-and-go format that is luring players away from the cash games. The high tax rate and high rake are also driving more players to tournaments. That’s why tournament traffic is up, while cash games are down. Unfortunately, most of the revenue is in cash games, so this isn’t a good trend for the operators.”

You’ll recognize many of the Frenchman at the top of the Hendon Mob’s all-time money list for France, including Bertrand ElkY Grospellier, David Benyamine, Antoine Saout, and Sylvain Loosli. Thirty-nine French players have over $1 million in live tournament earnings, according to the Hendon Mob. French players have won 11 World Series of Poker bracelets.

The country itself has a population of 65.7 million, over three times the size of New York and nearly double the size of California.

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Lead image courtesy DHSimon

9 COMMENTS

    • It’s probably “over” due to OVER-regulation. If the EU is supposed to be a consortium of European nations their real money online poker player pool should be as well. Individual EU countries with their hodgepodge of contrasting rules and regulations hinder the market. Any fool knows that bigger prizes and larger player pools, including ALL EU member states, are what would drive the real money online poker market. Read: it’s only “over” as a result of a divide and conquer mentality of selected EU states. You’re members of a European UNION, act like one!

    • This is what the US federal gov’t has to look at…. Draft the law so the US players can only play on .us sites and the rest of the world can play on .us sites too….. Think of all the TAX dollars the US could get from the international community playing on these sites…. They would probably have a Sunday Million going within the first 18 months of operation…..

    • This is what the US federal gov’t has to look at…. Draft the law so the US players can only play on .us sites and the rest of the world can play on .us sites too….. Think of all the TAX dollars the US could get from the international community playing on these sites…. They would probably have a Sunday Million going within the first 18 months of operation…..

      This is obviously a smart choice on the outside, but since every state wants the option to decide its own future, it could never happen. I guarantee players from every nation would have a .us account.

    • regulation doing what it does best; sweeping through and destroying industry just like in every other instance.