France Pushes Hard for Online Poker Liquidity7 months ago
Four European countries - France, Spain, Portugal and Italy - signed a liquidity deal in July, agreeing to share their player pools. Six months later it seems some of those countries are more ready to implement the deal than others: while Portugal made room for the new gambling laws in their proposed state budget for 2018, France contacted Italy about delays on the Italian side.
The watershed agreement was signed on July 6th after years of discussion. The four segregated markets are now set to open their borders to players from each other’s countries, which can be very beneficial to both the poker rooms and the players, as it could significantly increase the action at the tables.
The main facilitator of the deal was France from the start: their Senate approving an amendment allowing for the deal back in May 2016 was what set things in motion. Also, their gaming regulatory body ARJEL played a key role in shaping the deal.
ARJEL recently stepped in once again to move things forward. The gaming agency’s president, Charles Coppolani sent an official memo to their Italian counterpart, ADM inquiring about the delay on their part and a possible launch date. Casino News Daily speculates that the Italians are lagging behind because they haven’t started the bidding process for the new and renewed gambling licenses yet. Some worry that the amendments necessary for the liquidity deal haven’t been passed yet either. ADM has not made any public statement on the issue to date.
At this point the most likely scenario is a partial launch in early 2018 with France and Spain, while Portugal and Italy joining later. Stars Group CFO Brian Kyle also alluded to this earlier this year in his Q3 earnings call.
Meanwhile, Portugal proposed many amendments that are designed to allow for the new shared market, Italian gaming consultant Ivo Doroteia reported last week. According to Doroteia, the new laws will permit licensed operators to “share its gambling platform to provide and promote online gambling and betting games to players registered in different PT websites; and provide online gambling and betting games between players registered in PT websites and players located outside Portugal and registered in non-PT websites performing validly under licences issued in jurisdictions where liquidity sharing is admitted”.
This means that if those laws are passed, Portuguese gambling sites can advertise to players in the other three countries in the liquidity deal, and can let players from those countries play on their servers.
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