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France embraces poker liquidity sharing as new digital bill passes Senate

France has finally legalised international poker liquidity sharing after the country’s Senate passed a new wide-ranging bill concerning digital and internet technology.

The Law for a Digital Republic was passed unanimously, with 323 Senators voting in favour and 23 abstaining. It includes a number of gambling-related elements, with the clause allowing for international poker liquidity the most noteworthy.

Other amendments include methods for combating gambling addiction and allowing the country's gambling regulator, L'Autorité de régulation des jeux en ligne (ARJEL), to act as mediator in disputes between iGaming operators and players, as well as giving legal protections to eSports competitions.

The liquidity sharing tenet appears to only allow agreements with jurisdiction which have an existing cooperation agreement with France, and the exact conditions for pooling players are yet to be finalised, meaning that it is unlikely that we will see liquidity sharing this year.

It nonetheless represents a victory for ARJEL, which has long fought for pooled liquidity but has failed to get the support of the Senate. 

With regard to addiction controls, ARJEL has been given greater autonomy to pursue any method it believes appropriate, working with any relevant party, to ensure a high level of protection and high standard of treatment for players. This includes providing players with access to their data so they can evaluate their gambling habits.

ARJEL president Charles Coppolani will also now have the power to appoint mediators in gambling-related disputes to allow for issues to be resolved more quickly. This will be supported by a simplified sanctions procedure, giving the regulator more power to resolve disputes.

The bill also effectively recognises eSports as sporting events and its players as sportsmen. This is intended to help ensure that tournaments are carried out legally and players are protected by law.

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