European Gambling Regulators Sign First Shared Online Poker Liquidity Agreement in Rome
French online gambling of casino regulator Autorité de régulation des jeux en ligne (ARJEL) signed on Thursday the long-discussed first shared online poker liquidity agreement with its counterparts from Italy, Spain, and Portugal.
Although this is an important step in merging the player pools of the four countries, regulatory bodies still have a long way to walk before the plan is realized. In fact, the agreement only sets a framework for further cooperation between the four regulators. It also includes important points to be taken into consideration in future shared liquidity talks.
The move has been discussed for several years now, but actual steps have been taken over the past year. It was necessitated by the continued downward spiral online poker in the participating countries has been locked in.
Here it is important to note that online poker is a nascent market in Portugal, as it was only last November when PokerStars received the first license for the provision of this particular type of service to local players. This is why it is too early to assess Portugal’s online poker.
The other three countries regulated their poker markets years ago. They all (Portugal included) took a similar approach when creating their regulatory frameworks. All four markets are currently ring-fenced, which makes it impossible for local players to access larger player pools and thus play against fellow players from other jurisdictions.
Player liquidity is of great importance to the success of one poker market or another and of one poker room or another. The more customers sign up with a given poker brand, the greater the opportunity for more players to follow suit.
However, too strict regulations, ring-fencing, and player- and operator-unfriendly taxes impacted the success of regulated online poker in the Italy, Spain, and France in quite a negative manner. The creation of a larger player network is believed to be what ring-fenced poker markets need.
The initial agreement involves Spain, Italy, France, and Portugal, but it seems that more countries may enter the project in future. News emerged earlier this year that Germany and Austria were also interested in joining. What is more, the UK participated in negotiations, but given the fact that official Brexit talks have begun, the local regulator may wait a little while before taking any steps towards joining the future online poker network.
The four online gambling of casino regulators signed the shared liquidity agreement on Thursday, July 6, at a special meeting in Rome. ARJEL said in an ensuing statement that the online poker network may be launched by the end of the year.