Shared online poker liquidity among European markets is expected to become a reality by mid-2017 according to an Italian media report quoting the country’s online gambling president Daria Petralia.
Gaming regulators from several countries have been locked in negotiations for weeks developing agreements for shared liquidity. The regulators are hoping to make good on a promise made last year that merged player pools would active by end of this year.
According to latest reports, Italy’s online gaming regulator Agenzia delle dogane e dei Monopoli (ADM) would be presenting its framework for shared liquidity in May during an upcoming meeting at Brussels. Other countries involved in the discussions are Portugal, Spain and France.
All these jurisdictions are ring-fenced and will also be presenting proposals towards integrating their respective markets in the meeting. The UK has also been a part of negotiations but the country’s regulatory system is much different from the others. Ring fenced poker markets have been facing declining revenue and regulators hope that shared liquidity would be able to reverse this.
According to Petralia, while the legalities might be finalized by the summer of this year, it may take six more months for actual operations to start. Sharing player liquidity internationally is hampered by the need to have a degree of uniformity in market structures.
Two of the biggest challenges to be tackled are differences in taxation laws for online gaming and differing technical standards.
With respect to technical standards, experts believe that the rules surrounding online tournaments can be sorted out but for cash games it might prove to be an issue. There are however reports that even this is being addressed in on-going talks and a suitable solution would be found soon.
Recently two more markets have joined negotiations – Austria and Germany. Austria’s interest in sharing liquidity is not surprising. An Austrian gaming operator win2day partnered with Veikkaus, Finland’s state-run gambling operator to launch Europe’s first ever cross-border online poker network earlier this year.
Petralia has called the initiative to share player liquidity internationally an experiment. If successful, she said that it might be expanded to include other gaming formats including sports betting.
A recent report from the Milan Polytechnic University shows that Italy’s licensed online gambling operators have recorded revenue of €1.03 billion, a 25 percent hike over last year. The strong performance makes it the second largest online gaming market in Europe ahead of both France and Spain according to the ADM.