Italian, French, German, Portuguese, UK and Spanish gambling regulators met in Lisbon at the beginning of the month and more recently issued interesting statements at the World Gaming Executive Summit 2013 that might lead to a closer implementation of the online poker liquidity sharing within Europe.
The current ring fenced regulatory regime prevents operators from letting players of different jurisdictions to play together in the countries that regulated online poker requiring a local remote gambling license to offer games to their residents such as Italy, France and Spain. Even if an operator holds a local remote gaming license in all these 3 countries and operates in compliance with the laws of such countries, it is indeed obliged to run 3 separate platforms without sharing the liquidity across the different platforms and without taking advantage of any economy of scale.
This issue has become more relevant in a European online poker market that is now struggling because of the competition from online casino games and in some cases such as in France because of the tax model implemented. Major poker operators are still gaining a profit from the sector, but there is no doubt that the sharing of liquidity across the different platforms would considerably boost the growth of the European online poker market and would make operators’ life easier now that local regulatory gambling regimes oblige them to comply with different frameworks of rules for each country that they want to target.
Based on the press release issued by the Italian gambling regulator, AAMS, the poker liquidity sharing was one of the topics covered during the recent meeting in Lisbon and Italian and Spanish gambling regulations already allow this opportunity in their current regulations. On the contrary, it appears that France needs a primary law from the Parliament to adopt such regime and French operators are putting lots of pressure on MPs to make sure that such law is adopted in the shortest possible term.
The timing of this change is still uncertain, but it is clear that major poker operators which currently target a single country shall implement long term plans to make sure that at the time when the poker liquidity sharing is adopted they hold a reasonable market share in most of the countries involved.