L’Autorité de régulation des jeux en ligne (ARJEL), the French gambling regulator is ordering online operators to put an end to bonus offers on online poker sites for at least the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. The move comes as housebound Frenchmen (and women) flock to poker as a means to relieve boredom. It’s also a move that reflects the larger European trend of governments cracking down on marketing practices that have long been the mainstays of online gambling.

Word of the new rules regarding bonus offers came in the form of a bulletin that was sent out to French online operators. The bulletin pointed out that many French gamblers who would normally be wagering on sports are shifting to online poker to help break the monotony of lockdown. This has ARJEL concerned that the poker newbies will get in over their heads in their newfound pastime and they don’t want gambling operators taking advantage of the situation.

ARJEL is also asking gambling operators to do something that would be absolutely unthinkable for land-based casinos and is virtually unheard of in the online world, limit players’ time at their sites. So far, this part of the directive is mandatory, but it’s not tough to see a future where every player is limited to a certain amount of time on screen per day.

While it’s clear that French authorities are trying to protect vulnerable gambling newbies from losing their shirts, and grocery money, at online gambling sites, these actions are similar to actions we’ve seen in other European countries to limit the marketing practices of gambling operators. Don’t be surprised if these bans are still around when COVID-19 is just an awful, distant memory.

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