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France Bans Citizens from PokerStars Home Games

10 February 2011 by admin

PokerStarsSquarePokerStars has launched a new Home Games feature, but it won’t be available to French players. ARJEL, the France’s Regulatory Authority for Online Games, has told the online poker website to suspend the program for French customers, not allowing them to take part.

ARJEL wants to review French gaming laws, review the specific rules and policies of the new Home Games feature, and come to a definitive conclusion about its legality in their jurisdiction. Their preliminary opinion, which has prompted this decision, is that the feature is in violation of French gaming laws.

According to ARJEL, French law requires that owners of the regulated gambling websites establish the stakes for each game. What makes the Home Games different is that it basically lets players create the online equivalent of inviting a bunch of friends over for a poker game. Customers would be able to create their own private “clubs,” and the club owners get to set the rules, including the stakes, and track each player’s progress. Players in each club can take place in ring table games. In addition, each club can compete for cash prizes, which will be offered at the end of the season.

By French law, ARJEL believes, these games would be illegal because customers of PokerStars, rather than the operators of the website, set the stakes of the game. In a statement, ARJEL said that they have “decided to make a system analysis of Home Games to be able to ensure compliance with French law.” ARJEL has not given a timeframe for that investigation, but in the meantime have asked PokerStars to shut down access to the feature for French customers. While the investigation is going on, French players will still be able to participate in other parts of the site, since in the rest of the site the games are managed by PokerStars.

When France legalized online poker in 2010, PokerStars was one of the first companies to receive a license from ARJEL. To obtain the license, they created a dedicated domain for the French market, PokerStars.fr. To block French customers from playing the Home Games, all they would have to do is shut down that feature on the French PokerStars site. That is exactly the action ARJEL has asked them to take.

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