France online poker overview
|Rank||Poker Site||Online||Cash||24 H Peak||7 Day avg||Last Week||Play Now|
|1||PokerStars Europe||16214||1042||2600||1600||Play Now|
|4||iPoker Europe||832||262||601||325||Play Now|
France was among the first countries to regulate online poker in Europe – and unfortunately, local lawmakers opted for a semi-fenced market solution. As a result, players from France are allowed to play only on locally regulated sites, but French operators are still free to offer their services to people from all over Europe.
This kind of approach benefits the French government and certain French businesses. However, it is also harmful to international businesses, who are put in a lose-lose situation as soon as they decide to enter the local market.
Either they allow players from abroad to join their French site, thereby creating additional competition for their own international platform, or they box French players in, cutting them off from the rest of Europe.
France online poker laws
French gambling laws have a certain Byzantine quality to them. Every form of real-money gaming is regulated separately. Land-based poker regulations have very little to do with online poker regulations. Both are completely separate from sports betting laws, casino-related laws, and so on.
There is no consistency to speak of, which is pretty confusing since these regulations go as far as to dictate which poker variants are allowed and which are banned. On a brighter note, the situation isn’t as ambiguous as in most other western countries, such as Canada and Germany. French law may be complicated, but at least it’s very specific and stable.
What is or is not legal in France?
French poker operators have to obtain a “club game” license from ARJEL (Autorité de régulation des jeux en ligne – Regulatory authority for online games). These licenses are issued exclusively to businesses based in France.
As briefly touched on above, the rules that govern online poker are separate from those that govern land-based poker (Decree 2010-723 on the categories of club games mentioned in Article 14 of the Online Gaming Law and the principles governing their technical rules).
Only four poker variants are authorized for online play
- Fixed-Limit Texas Hold’em
- Pot-Limit Texas Hold’em
- No-Limit Texas Hold’em
- Omaha Poker
All of the above poker variants can be offered as either cash games or tournaments.
Goodbye PokerStars.fr, hello PokerStars Europe!
In January 2018, the French online poker market suddenly became significantly more attractive due to a rather sudden announcement made by Stars Group, which declared that it has begun pooling online poker liquidity between its locally regulated sites in both France and Spain.
The most surprising part of this announcement was that the new platform would be accessible to players from outside those two countries, who would be allowed to sign-up via PokerStars.es and start playing with their French and Spanish colleagues. We aren’t really sure what this means for the European poker scene, but one thing’s for certain: Winamax’s owners are not going to be pleased.
Where can I play poker online in France?
PokerStars Europe overview
PokerStars Europe is the largest France-regulated online poker room. It’s also quite unique in terms of traffic, as the site has been allowed to share its player pool with Spain and other European countries. To sum up PokerStars Europe in one sentence, we’d say that it’s the largest small poker platform in the world.
PokerStars Europe game choices
Whether you’re looking for cash games, multi-table tournaments, or exciting S&Gs, PokerStars Europe has you covered. The action won’t be as fierce as on the international network, but the overall experience is still fairly impressive. Most of the action takes place at the Hold’em tables, although there’s a fair amount of Omaha action if you aren’t too picky about your opponents.
Other locations where PokerStars Europe operates
At one point, Winamax was the largest France-licensed poker room, but the recent merger between PokerStars.fr and PokerStars.es knocked it down a notch. Still, it’s a decent alternative for recreational players who are simply looking for some fun.
Winamax game choices
No-Limit Hold’em, Pot-Limit Omaha, low buy-in tournaments, low buy-in Sit&Go’s, and Espresso STTs with randomized prize pools. If you’re willing to overlook a few empty lobbies, Winamax’s game selection is a micro-stakes player’s dream come true.
Other locations where Winamax operates
Winamax does not have any sister sites.
iPoker has never been a huge network, so scaling it down to fit a ring-fenced market doesn’t really seem like a good idea. And yet, somehow, it just works. Expect about 500 players online during peak traffic hours.
Poker site game choices:
iPoker.fr is all about low-stakes Hold’em and low buy-in MTTs. If that’s your thing, go for it. If you’re expecting something more, you’d be better served to join PokerStars.
Other locations where iPoker.fr operates
iPoker is also available internationally. Some of its skins have sister sites in Italy and Spain.
With only 350 players online during peak traffic hours, partypoker.fr simply fails to impress. We wouldn’t recommend this site to anyone aside from the most hardcore fans of partypoker’s software.
Poker site game choices
Low-stakes Hold’em, low buy-in multi-table tournaments, and low buy-in Sit & Go’s. Standard low-traffic site fare. No active Omaha games to speak of.
Other location where partypoker.fr operates
partypoker.fr is an offshoot of the international partypoker network, which also has daughter sites in New Jersey and Spain.
Where can I play poker live in France?
There are over 166 poker rooms in France, which are spread all over the country. Here are some highlights:
- Casino Le Lyon Vert poker room (200 Avenue du Casino, 69890 La Tour-de-Salvagny)
- Casino Barriere Enghien-les-Bains (3 Avenue de Ceinture, 95880 Enghien-les-Bains)
- Casino Barriere Cap D’Age (Île des Loisirs, 34300 Agde)
- Casino Barriere La Rochelle (15 Allée du Mail, 17000 La Rochelle)
- Casino JOA de Montrond (82 Rue Francis Laur, 42210 Montrond-les-Bains)
- Casino JOA de St-Jean-de-Luz (Place Maurice Ravel, 64500 Saint-Jean-de-Luz)
- Casino JOA (Lac de Christus, 40990 Saint-Paul-lès-Dax)
- Cercle Central (2 Rue Frochot, 75009 Paris)
- Clichy Montmartre (84 Rue de Clichy, 75009 Paris)
- Royan Poker Room (2 Espl. de Pontaillac, 17200 Royan)
France and poker-related taxes
French poker-related taxes are among the highest in Europe, if not the world. On top of the standard rake taken by poker operators, all poker pots are taxed two percent. Consequently, people playing on French sites often have to deal with a seven-percent rake.
To put this information in some context, the average rake in the industry is 3-5 percent. The purpose of this tax was to curb problem gambling, but all it really achieved was to turn winning or break-even players into long-term losers.
For many players, micro-stakes poker has effectively become as profitable as online slots. Yes, you can get lucky and score a few big wins, but in the end, the grind will likely wear you down. This is particularly reprehensible because those games are very popular among poker newbies and recreational players, who may lack the knowledge necessary to realize that there is no winning move in the game.
All in all, if you want to play poker on a French site and stay profitable, avoid micros entirely and focus on low/medium stakes cash games, STTs, or MTTs instead.
History of online poker in France
Regulations pertaining to online gambling in France used to be very prohibitive. The government had a monopoly on all forms of gambling. Accordingly, private companies from abroad were prohibited from offering their services on the French market. This put France under significant pressure from the European Union, which rightfully demanded the French government should introduce more liberal policies.
In 2010, the French government finally caved in and passed Law number 2010-476, also known as the Gambling Act, which created ARJEL and gave foreign iGaming companies a way to enter the French market. In the end, 35 businesses applied for an ARJEL license, becoming the first non-government entities to offer online poker, horse race betting, and sports betting. Casino games were pretty much thrown under the bus, as French politicians concluded that they were too addictive.