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European Union Fights War on Several Fronts

by Brendan Murray |  Published: Apr 01, 2008

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France, Sweden, Germany, Finland, and the European Union have all made legal headlines recently as the various national and trans-national battles for the heart and soul (not to mention profits and tax revenues) of poker in Europe heat up.

Just as the situation was beginning to take on the tone of an absurdist comedy the European Union stepped in with a sharp rebuke to the brazen protectionism of Sweden and Germany. Sweden's Supreme Court soon after decided it had better be seen to at least be paying lip service to the EU and ordered a review of the Lottery Law which bans foreign gaming companies from advertising in the country.

France's Court of Appeal did the rational thing and told authorities there that they had a responsibility to prove their legislation was consistent with European law, opening the doors for a phased relaxation of rules over the coming months.

Meanwhile it was left to the normally reserved Finns to leave commentators agog with a government-commissioned report claiming that making online poker companies refund player losses might ultimately drive them out of the country.

The Department of Communications and Culture was quickly dispatched to play down the suggestion in the face of international scorn, suggesting a state-run online poker room along the lines of the Swedish and Austrian models might be the preferred option.

Whatever the outcome in Finland, the EU seems to be losing patience with truculent national interests and some of those interests seem to be ready to acknowledge they are fighting a losing battle.

The French Occupation
This month Card Player Poker + Sports gets "ooh la la" with French legends old and new. Cover star Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier won the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in January and picked up a tidy $2 million for his efforts in defeating more than 1,100 other players.

This catapulted him to the top of the all-time French money list for tournament play and confirmed in the "real" world what many have known in the online world for a long time - that he is one of the most exciting prospects to emerge in European poker for many years.

A decade ago, when "ElkY" was in training as a teenage video game sensation, worldly Algerian-born actor and singer Patrick Bruel was winning a World Series of Poker bracelet in Las Vegas. Bruel recently made the final table at the European Poker Tour Barcelona and Card Player caught up with the mercurial Gallic talent to find out what makes him tick.

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In this issue of Card Player Poker + Sports, readers can find details on entering exclusive freerolls to play in what is shaping up to be one of the major online phenomena of 2008 which will generate a $1 million first prize. Good luck to all who enter.