Charles Coppolani, the new president of ARJEL, the French online gambling regulator, has declared that online poker in France is a “fad” that is on its way out.
Speaking with French financial newspaper Les Échos in his first official interview since assuming the position, he expressed his opinion on why the poker industry is in a state of decline in France.
“The fad is over… Basically, the online poker market may be mature… Poker is a little out of fashion today.”
He stated that “the impact of the [financial] crisis is one of the reasons behind the decline of both the online poker and betting market.” Shockingly, he also suggested that poker is too complicated for a “rather young audience,” and that it “has difficulty recruiting new players.”
A recent report published by ARJEL showed a 15% decrease in the French market when compared to the global market. The number of active accounts on France’s legal poker operators fell by 12%, and cash games fell by 19%
Interestingly, Coppolani’s predecessor, Jean François Vilotte, believes differently.
“We can see a decrease in the number of players in France, but this is due to the fact that big players are either moving out of the country or playing on illegal websites.”
Vilotte, who was France’s gambling authority for four years, stated that the biggest problem wasn’t a lack of interest, but a problem with regulation.
“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.
“A prohibitionist approach does not work on the Internet, so the only way to convince people to play in accordance with the law is to provide players with an attractive legal offer. At the same time, we also need to keep working against illegal websites to make sure those will not be able to keep operating within the French market.”
Unfortunately for Parisian poker players, French politicians rejected Vilotte’s ideas. Instead, Coppolani has chosen to ignore and forget about poker in France.