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Poker France – Waves of Police Control Gaming Rooms

Poker France – Waves of Police Control Gaming Rooms 0001

On Thursday 28th and Friday 29th February, Parisian gaming rooms became the subject of a series of inspections conducted by the French gaming police.

One of the biggest Parisian clubs must now close its doors. Certain others now require changes.

The Haussmann's room, which offered Parisian players access to fifteen or so Texas Hold'em tables, closed its doors February 29th just before midnight after the police burst in and stopped all games in the late afternoon. A few hours after this series of inspections, two of the biggest Parisian gaming rooms, the Aviation Club and Wagram began taking annual monies from players in order to sit at their tables.

The police intervention was apparently in order to verify that these rooms conform to the laws in effect to the renewal of licenses issued by the state. There are nine rooms in existence in Paris, of which seven propose Texas Hold'em poker tables: ACF (with 20 tables), Wagram (20), Haussmann (15), Gaillon (6), Central (6), ACIC (4 high stakes tables), and Clichy Montmartre (2).

Parisian gaming rooms had been, until the summer of 2007, the only place to play poker. Their success had been growing by leaps and bounds for about a decade. They were the only locations authorized to offer poker: France's 198 casinos had been strictly limited to offering house games in which the player bets against the casino.

Since the casinos were authorized to open Texas Hold'em tables from May 2007, all bets were off the house games and on the Texas Hold'em tables. Within the space of three months, three establishments have suddenly ceased all activity.

Besides the Haussmann, two other gaming clubs recently closed their doors. The first to go down was another prominent Parisian room: the Concorde, which had been temporarily closed after a financial investigation by the GIR, a special regional police task force, looking into speculations of money laundering. The closing of the Concorde became official in early 2008.

The second room to close was the Pyrenees club in Toulouse. It has been closed since January 9th, 2008, officially for failure to renew its license. The closing of these clubs is carried out without regard for employees, who are not officially laid off, and find themselves in precarious financial situations without the possibility of compensation.

Now that poker in France is growing and state-controlled casinos are offering the game more and more, do public authorities want to wipe the slate clean in Paris?

One Parisian club employee had this to say, "From now on there will be a lot of money in poker, the authorities worry where this money is going and what it's being used for. They had no idea of the size of game. Now that they see the numbers coming back from the casinos, the gaming police are more present and investigating. There is a lot of talk about the casino lobby pressuring investment in Paris, and the upcoming opening of tables at the Enghien casino seems to support this theory. Personally, I don't believe it. The casinos and the gaming clubs do not serve the same demographic. The gaming clubs generally offer small tables where the player can buy in with €50. Casinos are more interested in tables for which the buy-in starts at €100 or €500"

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