Sources reveal that French online gambling regulator, Autorité de régulation des jeux en ligne (ARJEL) has been aggressively pushing for the realization of shared online poker liquidity project between France, Spain, Italy and Portugal to commence from early 2018.
According to reports, ARJEL has recently contacted the Italian regulator to follow up on the progress of the online poker liquidity project on their end. This is because Italy is set to join the shared liquidity later than the three countries.
Initial talks between the four regulators began in 2012 and only in July 2017 did the four regulators manage to reach a mutual decision and sign an agreement for shared online poker liquidity. Back then, the regulators first set a mid-September date for the launch of the license application process.
Now, according to recent developments, Spain and Portugal will be ready to open their online poker borders to France in the first months of 2018.
ARJEL President Charles Coppolani has reportedly contacted his partner in Italy because the country is yet to overcome domestic opposition to the shared liquidity deal. Italian politicians are still ironing out their concerns regarding the risk of money laundering across borders.
Italy has yet to start its bidding process for licensing applications and renewals. Both local operators seeking to renew and international operators who have expressed desire to operate in the Italian gambling market are not sure about their next move. This delay in proceedings has forced Italy to delay its launch and it will most likely join the shared liquidity agreement towards the end of 2018.
Spain and France will be the first two countries to set up their shared networks. Portugal is expected to follow shortly, since the country announced that they will be reviewing gambling laws in 2018. Their plans to expand their country’s two-year-old online gambling laws will be instrumental in their entry to the shared liquidity project. While Portugal has yet to reveal specifics on which areas of its gambling market are getting expanded, many industry observers are expecting the country to finally draft regulations with regards to online sports betting.
Despite the delays from its counterparts, France is keeping to their timetable. The Stars Group confirmed during their third quarter conference call that PokerStars is in schedule with the shared online poker liquidity agreement. PokerStars is poised to launch the initial phase of their involvement in the project in early 2018.
Many gaming enthusiasts and analysts believe that PokerStars stands to gain the most from the liquidity deal since they are the only online poker operator already holding licenses in all four countries. iPoker is also gearing up for the start of the shared liquidity since it has a significant presence in three of the four markets.