At the beginning of January there was a milestone moment for shared liquidity platforms in Europe, and potentially worldwide, as PokerStars launched its French-Spanish site with combined player pools from both countries.
Now Portugal is positioning itself to get in on the action, with Severin Rasset, Director of Poker Innovation and Operations at PokerStars detailing to PRO that he expects a Q2 launch in the region.
Furthermore, the President of the French online gambling regulator, ARJEL, Charles Coppolani, has told local media that Portugal is now very close to joining the agreement, explaining to RMC Sport TV that Portuguese regulators have entered the final stages of preparation to enter the shared liquidity project.
Casinonewsdaily mentioned that the 'verification process' is presumed to be of a technical nature, with issues stemming from anti-money laundering regulations that are strict in Italy but may differ in other countries like France.
Coppolani has been a staunch advocate of the shared liquidity project for many years after he took his position at ARJEL back in 2014. His lobbying efforts convinced the French government to adopt the necessary amendment in the country’s gambling law that allowed it to negotiate shared liquidity agreements with other jurisdictions with segregated poker markets.
Portugal only regulated the provision of online gambling back in 2015, and further began distributing the first licenses in 2016. However, players had to wait until December 2016 until they were allowed to play the games on locally licensed websites.
PokerStars is currently the only licensed online poker platform operating in the local market to date. However, once the liquidity project goes live, it is expected that a number of other operators will enter the market.
Figures posted by Serviço de Regulação e Inspeção de Jogos showed that the region’s market produced fairly discouraging figures during the quarter ended 30 June.
Revenue from online gambling services totalled €25.4m during the reviewed three months, down from €31.4m in the previous quarter.
However, when PokerStars first launched its website in Portugal, it attracted a great deal of interest among local players, with a weekly average of cash game players coming in at 2,000 in the first few days of the launch.