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French-Spanish Online Poker Tables to Launch within Weeks
- January 3, 2018 By Oliver Young -
ARJEL, France’s online gambling regulator, revealed on Tuesday that the first phase of a shared online poker liquidity agreement will begin within the next few weeks, during which the first French-Spanish online poker tables will be launched. Per the agreement, which was signed between four EU countries in Rome six months ago, players from either jurisdiction will be able to join online poker tables and play against both local and international players from the participating countries.
Market Borders to Officially Move
The online poker liquidity agreement was officially announced in July 2017 when ARJEL revealed that they will be cooperating with the regulatory authorities of Portugal, Italy, and Spain to bring down the digital ring-fences that isolated the countries’ markets from one another during the previous six years. While the online sportsbetting sector was doing considerably well in Spain, proceeds from cash games were reported to be on the decline during recent years, a trend that was also evident in Italy, and France.
PokerStars is reported to benefit the most from the new agreement as the only operator to hold licenses in all 4 jurisdictions. Local French operator Winamax might also be making a move after acquiring the Italian gaming license of bet-at-home, more than two years after leaving the online gaming market in the country. PartyPoker is yet another operator that offers services in Italy, France, and Spain that could benefit from the new agreement but also launch shared tables during the first stage of the project.
Italy and Portugal to Follow Up
After the launch of the French-Spanish tables, Portugal is thought to be the next country joining the online poker liquidity network. Still in its “hatchling” stage, the Portuguese poker market was only launched in 2016. However, as the local government decided to join the project and liberate online gaming regulations in December to allow cross-border gaming, more operators might be interested in acquiring a Portuguese license.
Meanwhile, the exact date of Italy’s entry in the network remains unknown as the local government is reportedly facing opposition from concerned operators. While the local sportsbetting market saw record growth this year, concerns are being raised about opening online poker to international operators. The reason, according to local media, is that international operators with licenses in multiple jurisdictions will benefit the most from the project while local operators will remain even more pressured. At the start of December, a local news outlet Agipro even suggested that Italy’s participation could arrive in “at least a year”.
But while Italy’s regulators might be facing delays, the DGOJ – Spain’s gaming regulatory body – has already approved locally-licensed operators of online poker to share liquidity within the three EU states. The approval came on December 29th, when DGOJ revealed to have signed a Resolution that approves the liquidity which is expected to come into effect by the end of the month, after which the first licenses will be issued. ARJEL, in the meantime, had already granted its first liquidity license to PokerStars.