French Regulator Authorizes Amaya/PokerStars Deal French Regulator Authorizes Amaya/PokerStars Deal
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French regulator ARJEL has authorized a change in ownership of PokerStars’ French subsidiary.

Rational Group, parent company of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, has entered into an agreement to be acquired by Canadian online gaming group Amaya in a deal worth $4.9 billion.

PokerStars holds ten online gaming licenses. Along with its primary licenses in the Isle of Man and Malta, from where it operates its dot-com and dot-eu sites, it also holds regional licenses throughout Europe, including France, Italy, Spain, Belgium and Denmark.

The authorization from ARJEL, considered a formality, approves “a change in indirect control” of REEL MALTA Limited, a Maltese subsidiary that holds the French license.

Operation Unaffected

PokerStars submitted a new application to the regulator on June 23, 2014, just ten days after the Amaya deal was announced.

ARJEL ruled that the operational change “does not affect its technical, economic and financial capacity to carry out its activity.”

One of these financial activities is holding all deposits of French players in a segregated trust fund. The stipulation is a recent change, adopted following the collapse of Full Tilt Poker which held a French license at the time of its demise.

PokerStars already had adopted the policy of fund segregation as a standard in all its markets, and has called for wider industry adoption.

French Market

In France, PokerStars operates a segregated online poker room, which is smaller that its Italian and Spanish cousins.

In fact, it is the only one where the online poker giant is not the market leader—Winamax tenaciously holds on to a small lead in terms of cash game traffic.

The French market is notoriously tough, with tax rates so high that losing money is the norm for operators. Online poker traffic in the market has seen substantial declines over the last two years.