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Poker Stars Passes Increased Rake Fees onto Unhappy Players in France

12 July 2010 by Devon Chappell

I don't know what this says in French, but something tells me it isn't about higher rake fees...

I don't know what this says in French, but something tells me it isn't about higher rake fees...

Here’s a message for all you lawmakers out there contemplating drawing up laws to regulate online gambling. Write a law to actually regulate online betting activity, not hinder it. Sure, taxation and regulation tend to go hand-in-hand. But when the taxation policy does not make it worthwhile for operators to do business, then it kind of defeats the purpose does it not?

In the UK, where strict regulatory laws have driven out several top-shelf online betting operators in the last few years, in France, some operators are choosing to pass increases in taxation onto the players themselves. More specifically, the popular online poker room, Poker Stars has dumped a 2% increase in rake charges on French players, as a result of new regulatory laws – which for all intensive purposes – are supposed to liberalize online gambling in France.

Beginning earlier this month, the French government gave an open invitation to offshore betting operators seeking to do business with French citizens – and Poker Stars was one of them. The only catch was that the operators would be required to pay more in taxes than what they were generally accustomed to in other regulatory jurisdictions.

Instead of sucking up the loss, Poker Stars has decided to make the players pay. Mind you, these are the same players who helped make Poker Stars become one of the most popular online poker rooms in the world. Needless to say, players from France are up in arms about the decision to raise the rake charge up to 7.7% (the percentage amount of the pot that is deducted and paid to Poker Stars every hand), and have formed a coup d’etat of sorts.

Taking advantage of the rule called a “sit out”, French players have successfully managed to impose a boycott on Poker Stars. Permitting seated players to “sit out” a hand at a table, the rule is now being exploited to the point where some entire tables are being “sat out” by players. Taking note of the uprising, Poker Stars defended its decision, stating they have been losing money themselves as a result of raised taxes. However, you and me and all the players at Poker Stars know that’s absolute BS.

I guess then it comes down to how greedy does Poker Stars want to be? Whether the staged sit-outs will be enough to get the world’s most popular online poker room to rethink increased rake fees for French poker players remains to be seen.

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