Paris, EPT: A Brief History of Poker and Gambling in Paris

Instead, one of Paris’s gaming clubs is a great place to practice your poker skills or have fun playing table games. Let’s take a look at the connection between Paris and gambling now that the first-ever European Poker Tour Paris is just around the corner.

The tumultuous beginnings of gambling in Paris

The French have always gambled, and beginning in the early 16th century, lotteries were held in all of the French states. They were so successful that they were even banned in Paris in 1598 and 1661. However, after a national lottery was established in 1700, they returned. Officially, it was the only permitted game in the capital. All of the aristocracy congregated in shady gambling establishments, which were still considered “the place to be” on an informal level.

Poque, which spread to France in the 17th century, is thought to have been the game closest to poker at the time. Poque was based on the Spanish game primero, which was played in the 16th century. In primero, each player was dealt three cards, and bluffing was a big part of the game.

After the French Revolution, the game gained even more popularity, and by the end of the 19th century, many “cercles,” which were modeled after English gambling clubs, had emerged in Paris and the bourgeoisie’s favorite seaside resorts.

In an effort to maintain control, the French government did not agree to legalize gambling until the 20th century, in 1907. Poker and table games first appeared in seaside resort casinos, then in private circles in 1923, but they never made it to Paris! The State outlawed all casinos within a 100-kilometer radius, with the exception of the spa town of Enghien-les-Bains, out of concern for public disorder in the capital.

The ascent of poker and betting in Paris and afterward its abrupt end during the 2000s

To battle against unlawful betting, the Service of the Inside ultimately altered its perspective and conceded extraordinary regulations approving a couple of gaming circles. This marked the start of Paris’s golden age of gambling. The French rediscovered their love of gambling at the end of the Second World War, and by the 20th century, there were about a dozen “cercles” in Paris; Flying Club de France, Cercle Haussmann, Cercle Wagram, Cercle Anglais, Cercle Clichy-Montmartre, l’Industrie, Cercle Gaillon thus on…to name just the most renowned.

What games could you play at the Aviation Club of FranceAviation Club of France At first, there were the standard bank games and table games, but there was no poker, no games like blackjack, roulette, or slot machines because they were considered games of pure chance. In 1995, the historic ACF was the first gaming club in France to open a poker room. The first Grand Prix de Paris was held three years later, bringing together poker players from all over the world.

However, the government’s truce was short-lived. Under the 1901 French law, these businesses were run as associations, officially non-profit, which ended up being a problem. In the 2000s, the State began to fight against certain circles because of their opaque accounting.

Because of progressively rigid guidelines, the circles shut their entryways consistently. In autumn 2018, the final establishment to close its doors was the Cercle Clichy Montmartre, signaling the temporary end of the long history of Parisian gaming circles.

Before the covid pandemic struck the world, poker tournaments returned to the capital in small steps, with a few smaller events in 2019 and no fewer than ten festivals in 2020.

In June 2021, the government grants permission for table games to reopen in Paris. Furthermore, presently since November 2022, four new games are approved in Parisian foundations, Dark Jack, Craps, Sic-bo (a dice round of Chinese beginning) and Bingo.

Finally, Poker Stars announced in December that the very first European Poker Tour would be held in the capital from February 15 to February 26 following the World Poker Tour’s grand return to Paris in 2023, which took place at the Club Circus Paris from January 22 to February 5. In collaboration with Le Club Barrière Paris, which is located at the storied 104 Avenue des Champs-Elysées, the festival will be held at the Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile.

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