There have been steady advances made within the shared-liquidity agreement made between France, Spain, Italy and Portugal. While the first two countries are already enjoying the pool – with Winamax becoming the second licensee of France to secure liquidity approval – Portugal and Italy have been a little slower on the uptake. However, it seems as though Portugal’s arrival to the shared-liquidity pool is imminent.
On Friday, the country officially published the national technical standards framework, relating to the pooling of its online poker gamers with those of the other three countries. It was necessary for this to take place before Portugal’s players receive the ability to join platforms that hold licences from all other participating countries. And with the Serviço de Regulação e Inspeção de Jogos (SRIJ) publishing such, Portuguese players will be able to play against poker players in France and Spain.
For the time being, this will only be possible via the PokerStars Europe network, as this is the only one to hold approval and licences from all three countries. Of course, there is also the potential for other networks to join the shared-liquidity market in the future. It is thought that PokerStars will begin accepting players registering on pokerstars.pt in a short few days.
What’s the Framework All About?
It’s quite simple to say, but the framework that the SRIJ has published essentially confirms the ‘Legal Regime of Online Gambling and Betting’ for the country. This first saw approval in April of 2017 by Portuguese officials. And while this framework did receive approval from the European Commission a few short weeks later, things stalled for several months afterwards.
Now that it has finally be released, the framework doesn’t contain any particular surprises. It basically specifies more details about player participation relating to anyone – Portuguese or not – registering from the .pt poker sites on the network. Of course, it’s true to say that the words, “online gambling” could mean anything in the gaming world, for the moment it only pertains to online poker play in a player versus player format.
It is hoped that the publication of the framework will revive the struggling online poker sector within Portugal. The country is home to around 10 million people, so it fails in being able to provide enough players to see the online poker market really flourish and take off. Furthermore, things could become a bit harsher in the country, thanks to the higher tax rates that the government is levying for. With that being said, the shared-liquidity network access and buy-ins through the PokerStars Europe network will need to fare well in Portugal.
However, while Portugal’s arrival may be imminent, there’s little news as to when Italy is expected to join. The fourth and final country to sign the agreement is yet to finalise any kind of plans to allow its players to access the network. For the moment, poker players from within the country can still access all licensed .it platforms. However, the future surrounding the European liquidity network is hazy for the time being.