ARJEL Combats Gray Market Operators With TV Campaign

France has stepped up its campaign against gray market gambling operators by airing a TV commercial exposing players’ vulnerability when they leave regulator ARJEL’s protective embrace.

The French system allows operators regulated in France to offer online poker to players in other countries, but it does not allow French players to play online poker other than on sites regulated by ARJEL.

High taxes, which take 2% from every cash game pot whether there is a flop or not, provide an incentive for non-French regulated sites to target players who want to play cheaper poker.

The gray market makes it even tougher for regulated operators to make a profit, and obviously reduces the tax take for the government. The same problem is evident in Sweden which operates a similarly restrictive regulatory regime.

CEO Lennart Käll of Swedish monopoly Svenska Spel wryly commented on the easy availability of advertising from gray market operators last year: “Foreign gambling advertising—now at a bus stop near you.”

ARJEL’s retort to the gray market might best be described as: “Naked gamblers—now at a TV channel near you.”

ARJEL’s advertisement, below, uses naked men clutching sports equipment to cover their “equipment” in public places to symbolize the lack of protection it alleges players have when playing on non-ARJEL sites.

Other measures such as domain name blacklists have had little success in curbing the gray market. In Europe EU treaties permit them to trade anywhere within the EU and that restrictions such as those in France and Sweden are argued to be illegal.

Perhaps the humor of this campaign will encourage players to think more kindly of ARJEL and its regulated sites.