Aug 13 2010

French Court Rules that Internet Service Providers Must Block Poker Sites

written by: James under News, Poker Law Comments: Comments Off

It appears that France is becoming more serious about their actions against online poker as a recent ruling will require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block any online poker sites (and any gambling sites) that do not have a license from the French government. Although the recent move to legalize and regulate online poker in the country was considered a victory for online poker players in France, this recent move by France has many poker players and supportive agencies wondering how much worse the situation will get. Many poker players are now asking whether the actions of the French government are a warning for players that support similar legislation in the United States.

French players have had a great deal of difficulty with recent French legislation on online poker. Many players complained when they were forced from the gigantic player base at PokerStars (more than 50,000) to a separate PokerStars French web site with a player base barely topping 1,000 players during peak traffic hours. PokerStars was not the only online poker company that used this route to maintain operation standards for their main web site while opening the door for French regulation and legislation with a secondary site. However, the situation with low traffic stats is reflected across the board.

An additional problem that has arisen from French legislation is rake. Sites that have adhered to French licensing terms were forced to pay enormous licensing fees to the French government. In order to make these fees back with a lower traffic base, the sites had to charge a much higher rake. This increased rake ultimately led to a player sit-in to protest the expanded rake rates and enormous fees charged by the French government. Some opponents to recent French regulation have argued that, while the French government promises to regulate online pokers, it holds such sites completely responsible for their site activity and can charge fees when illegal activity occurs. This has made many players and site owners question exactly what they are paying for in the high licensing fees.

The most recent ISP legislation is yet another roadblock to legal online poker in France. ISP companies are arguing that blocking only certain web sites is a very difficult task, is not efficient, will slow down their networks and could result in entirely legal web sites being blocked on their service. In addition, a blocked site must only change their Internet address to bypass the proposed blocks. This could lead to lost revenue repeatedly chasing down poker sites on their service – something that could result in higher ISP rates across the board.

ISP companies in France are already expected to appeal the ruling and lobby for, if not an overturn of the ruling, a government committee responsible for blocking such sites – not the ISPs themselves who have nothing directly to do with the online poker and gambling industry.

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