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France submits poker liquidity-pooling proposals for EC approval

The French government is moving forward with plans to allow its poker licensees to pool liquidity with other jurisdictions, submitting draft legislation to the European Commission (EC) for approval.

The proposed legislation aims to allow customers of licensed French poker sites to play against players registered with companies operating lawfully in another member state of the European Union or part of the European Economic Area.

It would amend Section II of Article 14 of France’s current laws to permit those licensed under Article 21 of regulations to pool liquidity with other jurisdictions.

This has been put forward after the French Senate approved The Law for a Digital Republic in May this year, a wide-ranging bill concerning internet technology, which was passed with 323 Senators voting in favour.

“This will increase the amount of liquidity available on French online poker tables, as well achieving the objective of consumer protection,” the French government said of the proposed laws. “Indeed, the appeal of poker is largely based on the volume of liquidity provided by players accessing the tables proposed by operators."

Without these new measures, the government explained, players were more likely to access unlicensed gambling sites. The poker industry has struggled in recent years, with its travails particularly apparent in France, where it is one of just three legal gaming verticals. 

“Restricting access to poker tables with players only approved operator fails to meet a volume of attractive enough liquidity to these players and led some of them to turn to illegal offers,” it explained.

The change is facilitated by an amendment to Article 34, which states that such agreements will only be permitted when there are liquidity pooling and information sharing agreements in place between France and another jurisdiction.

French regulator L’Autorité de régulation des jeux en ligne (ARJEL) and its counterpart in the other territory must have established a partnership to share information or documents “necessary for the performance of their duties, such as the prevention of fraud, criminal and terrorist financing and money laundering.”

To ensure players are protected from problem gambling, a second proposal to amend legislation has been put forward, to legally require operators to give players the option to self-exclude from poker games.

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