The French online poker industry has been in decline for the last couple of years and online poker sites have found it difficult to maintain a consistent poker player database as online poker traffic keeps falling every month. Online poker lobbyists have been pushing ARJEL, the online gaming regulator to revive the struggling industry but so far those efforts have not yielded a lot of results.
The two biggest online poker operators in France are PokerStars and Winamax who dominate the majority of the market. The smaller operators have found it difficult to compete with these brands as France’s online poker players prefer to play at these sites since the payouts are bigger and the competition a lot better.
Winamax.fr is the number one online poker website in France followed by PokerStars. Winamax averages around 1,200 cash game players per week while PokerStars averages around 750 cash game players per week, while the other sites average around 325 cash game players per week.
Although PokerStars and Winamax dominate the online poker market in France both websites have found it difficult to meet tournament guarantees during the past few months. The tournament guarantees are usually set at €1 million to attract a considerable player pool and while the strategy has proven to be successful in the past; those targets are not being met of late.
Both online poker websites run these special tournaments and promote them heavily to continue their market dominance. PokerStars flagship event in France is their Sunday Million event which generally attracts around 5,000 poker players on average. The registrations for the recent tournament dropped considerably as only 4,109 players signed up, which meant that PokerStars had to chip in to cover the tournament guarantee. Players who signed up for the Sunday Million event had to pay a buy-in fee of €230 and an entrance fee of €23. The remaining amount had to be paid by PokerStars to meet the tournament guarantee.
Winamax also reported a drop in tournament guarantee numbers as the Winamax Main Event used to bring in around 7,700 registrations on average. This time around the main event saw only 6,749 players register where the buy-in was fixed at €150 for the main event. The online poker website had to chip in the deficit in order to meet the tournament guarantee.
Winamax and PokerStars are concerned that this drop in player registrations could become worse before the end of the year and are hoping that ARJEL can come up with a strategy to stop the decline in the online poker market in France.