In his first interview with Les Echos as the new president of the French online gaming regulatory body ARJEL, Charles Coppolani has referred to French online poker as “over.” He declared bluntly that “the fad is over” although “basically, the online poker market may be mature.”

Poker players are worried about this statement from a man who controls the fate of online poker in France. It is a widely known fact that French online poker can thrive only if it gets into liquidity-sharing deals with other nations in Europe. In 2010, France made the mistake of putting a fence around its online casino gaming and online poker industries, eliminating all chances of liquidity deals with other countries.

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Ever since, player traffic to cash games at French online poker rooms has been low. According to a recent ARJEL report, the percentage of newly registered accounts at French online poker rooms had reduced by 12 percent during Q1 of 2014, a trend that had begun in 2011. The number of active player accounts had fallen to 263,000 from 299,000, leading to 10 percent revenue loss for operators.

Refusing to see the liquidity issue, Coppolani says that the game is “too complicated for a rather young audience.” He also opined that fall of the French online poker market could be because of the economic crisis, thus contradicting his own idea that online poker is a “fad that has passed.” He has also ignored the fact that tournament poker is still immensely popular in France.

The previous president of ARJEL, however, had understood the situation better. Jean Francois Vilotte, the previous president of ARJEL, had declared that the French online poker market can be saved by sharing liquidity with neighboring markets so that a wide range of online poker games can be offered. He had said: “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.”

The government of France, however, had turned down a proposal to share liquidity with countries such as UK, Italy, and Spain. Coppolani’s statements are similar to those of Razzy Hammadi, the Economic Affairs Committee rappoteur, who said at a parliamentary hearing that “people simply needed to realize that, despite significant investments in advertising and development, poker has now gone a little out of fashion.”

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