Spain clears decks for poker liquidity sharing with France

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Spain and France have advanced towards shared online poker liquidity with another step, following the official publication of Spain’s new regulations.

The resolution signed by Spanish gaming regulator Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ) on December 29 was published by the Spain’s Official State Gazette on Monday legalising the online poker liquidity sharing between the state-licensed operators in Spain, France, Italy and Portugal.

The resolution emphasises that the new inter-jurisdictional agreement shall come into effect on the day following its publication, making Tuesday, January 16 the official D-Day of European online poker pool-sharing, owing to the need to acquire technical approvals the actual process is not likely to begin promptly.

The Stars Group’s Spanish-licensed will obviously be the foremost operator to plunge into this pool, with been issued a cross-border license from French regulator ARJEL already.

The online poker markets in both Spain and France have recently shown flickers of life following a long decline, although this is largely due to the growth on online tournaments, as cash games figures continue to slide (at least in Spain).

In a recent interview with Casino News Daily, DGOJ Director Juan Espinosa Garcia sought to temper expectations of shared liquidity providing an immediate boost to locally licensed poker operators. Garcia claimed it was “necessary to give some time for the poker markets to adapt to the new reality.”

That said, Garcia is confident that the long-term benefits of shared liquidity will ultimately convince other European Union regulated markets to join the four first-mover countries.

Portugal has offered little guidance on its progress towards joining France and Spain, while Italy’s commitment to the cause is in doubt after some local senators raised discredited concerns regarding money laundering. Garcia dismissed these arguments, saying “from a substantive perspective the scheme should really be as strong as a ring-fenced national liquidity situation.”

The DGOJ has also mulled liquidity sharing deals for non-poker verticals ‘in which the number of players is key to determine the prize, such as online bingo or mutual [exchange] bets.” However, these plans will be subject to the same type of “methodical evaluation and study” to ensure regulators, operators and the public derive some benefit.