The new club named the Paris Elysées Club is based in the French capital's upmarket 8th arrondissement and is entirely dedicated to poker.
Customers must dress smartly, show ID, and can expect to be searched at the door. There’s also a 15 euro entrance fee in order to “keep away people who are just curious”, reported Le Monde.
The 2,500m2 club is a stone’s throw away from the Champs-Elysées and occupies the building of the former Man Ray bar, co-owned by Johnny Depp, Sean Penn, John Malkovich and Simply Red singer Mick Hucknall.
Casinos were banned in the French capital in 1920, but a new law allows clubs de jeux under strict conditions to avoid fraud and money laundering.
Unlike cercles de jeux, which are private gambling clubs classed as a not-for-profit organisations, clubs de jeux must register as a commercial company in order to improve the traceability of funds.
They must also undergo a detailed police check and employ an auditor.
And they're not allowed to provide popular casino games like roulette, blackjack and slot machines.
“There's no money laundering in our business. It's an extremely controlled, regulated activity,” the club’s director Sébastien Tranchant told France Info.
The new club de jeux is run by Groupe Tranchant, which owns 16 casinos in France. But Tranchant isn’t the only casino company looking to benefit from the new law.
Casino groups Partouche and Raineau have also applied to open gaming clubs in the French capital, Le Monde reported.
For Pierre Perret, founder of l’Institut du Jeu Excessif (Excessive Gambling Institute), permitting clubs de jeux is a positive step to protect betters.
“When gambling takes places in a regulated, organised and controlled environment, we’re heading in the right direction,” Pierre Perret, founder of the IJE told The Local.
“The idea of banning gambling is an illusion. People who want to gamble would just go online, which is more dangerous as there are lots of illegal sites.”
In France, problem gamblers can have their names blacklisted by casinos and websites, either by the state or upon personal request.
Paris' last remaining cercle de jeu, Cercle Clichy Montmartre, is due to close on 31 December.
By Charlotte Mason