The steep decline in online poker revenue in both Italy and France in 2012 seems to be linked to the lack of shared poker player pools. Italy’s AAMS has suggested it is time to remedy this.
Both Italy and France have announced that there was a decline in the online poker revenue for the year 2012. France first announced that there was a decline of 5% in overall poker revenue. Soon after, AAMS, the Italian gaming regulator, also announced Italy had also suffered a decline in the online poker revenue in 2012.
The pattern of decline was somewhat different for the two countries, with Italy suffering a drop in online poker tournaments of 37%, and cash games having declined by 34%. While the situation in France was not quite as bad, it should be noted that online poker tournaments increased by 21%, while the cash games had a huge drop, somewhat balancing the total revenue.
Jean-Francois Vilotte, the ARJEL president noted that it is concerning that the attraction of poker seems to be lessening. It seems that in France, because of the taxation system for online poker, the sites have a higher rake for cash games. As a result of this, more players have moved over to playing online poker tournaments, rather than the cash games.
According to the AAMS, in Italy, however, since the cash games have been introduced, there has been more of a decline in online poker tournament revenue.
In addition to both France and Italy suffering this decline in online poker revenue, both Spain and Portugal have also suffered. The common factor here seems to be that these countries have all segregated their online poker markets from other countries, even though the European Union has instructed otherwise. Now that there has been a decline in overall online poker revenue, Italian online poker regulators have suggested that perhaps these four countries should cooperate and share player pools.
While this lack of cooperation has become a clear problem in Europe, there are those who feel that the United States could learn a lesson from this. The US was on track to legalize online poker on a federal level, however, it now seems that the US is not going in this direction, but rather will allow individual states to legalize online poker. This will mean that there is no player sharing, which could adversely affect the potential online poker income in some states.