When it rains, it pours. There’s a reason that saying became so popular over the centuries, and it couldn’t provide a more appropriate description of the online poker news headlines flooding France at the moment. In the last week alone, Winamax has reclaimed the top spot in the French online poker market, PokerStars has cancelled its intended stop in Paris along the French Poker Series (FPS), and a meeting between players and the state’s internet poker regulator, ARJEL, actually ended on a positive note.
Winamax seizes #1 spot from PokerStars
In what could be the most surprising story of the entire month, Winamax has arrogated the title of #1 French online poker site from PokerStars.fr. The former leader held onto a slight lead for awhile, but a recent dip in activity has dropped PokerStars down to an average of just 900 concurrent players over the last 7 days, while Winamax’s numbers rose to 1,250. The original online poker site of France now maintains a sizable 35% lead over PokerStars in the region.
PokerStars scratches Paris off French Poker Series
The Paris leg of the FPS was set to kick off on November 21st, 2014 with a series of events leading up to a $1,100 Main Event. Unfortunately for professional poker players all throughout Europe and beyond, legal issues resulted in the closure of the Cercle Cadet, the live poker room where the FPS Paris was slated to take place.
The poker room (among others) was raided by French authorities on October 14th. With no insight as to when the location will be allowed to reopen, FPS President Cédric Billot said, “it was impossible to find, in such a short time, another trusted partner that would allow us to organize the FPS in Paris and in optimal conditions.”
PokerStars.fr assured live and online poker players who had already qualified via satellites to play in the event that they would receive some form of compensation. “We are really sorry to be forced to cancel this FPS stop,” said a representative of PokerStars.fr, who then alluded to a possible means of recompense when he added, “…we still have some other great events for our players as the ones in Deauville, Namur, Prague, or even the French Championship of Online Poker (FCOOP),” are still scheduled to take place.
Positive Meeting between ARJEL and French Online Poker Players
A long-awaited meeting was held this week that allowed French online poker players to voice their concerns about the ring-fenced market to ARJEL, the state’s regulatory body. A multitude of issues were discussed, but added to the agenda at the last minute was the collapse of Europoker.fr and the absence of 6-figures worth of player funds. Online poker companies are required to keep segregated accounts, holding all player funds separate from company funds, to ensure that they will be able to fulfill account withdrawals should the company go under. However, when EP MEDIA’s subsidiary, Europoker, went under, only the amounts deposited by players were held in the segregated accounts.
There was no money in the account to cover players who exchanged their bonuses and tournament tickets for cash, nor additional funds to cover the value of bonuses and tournament tickets that had not yet been cashed in. ARJEL assured members of the defunct online poker site that their legal director, Frederick Guerchoun, would be discussing the matter at length with the EP MEDIA’s liquidators.