France and Spain Ready to Launch Shared Online Poker Tables in Coming Weeks

The French online gambling regulator ARJEL announced on Tuesday that first Franco-Spanish online poker tables will be launched within the next few weeks as part of the initial phase of the shared online poker liquidity project.

Online poker operators licensed in both France and Spain will be able to join the project and allow players from the two countries to play against peers from their homeland as well as from the other country.

The launch of Franco-Spanish poker tables comes six months after the gambling regulators of France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy signed the shared liquidity agreement in Rome, Italy to seal their commitment to the scheme. The ambitious project is hoped to improve the state of online poker in the four participating jurisdictions. All four markets share one particularly important feature – they were ring-fenced upon regulation, which restricted players to playing against peers from their respective countries only.

The results from the online poker market segregation of Spain, Italy, and France were nearly catastrophic as all three jurisdictions have seen continued drop in proceeds from cash games over the past several years. Portugal’s online poker market is still a nascent one as first licensed online poker operations began in December 2016, but it was believed that ring-fencing would bring nothing good to the country’s online poker sector.

Where Are Italy and Portugal at with the Shared Liquidity Project?

France was the main initiator of the shared liquidity project so it is not a surprise that it is among the first countries to be ready to realize the project. As for Spain, it too managed to produce the necessary paperwork in relation to the project quite quickly and to prepare itself for an early 2018 launch of the shared liquidity network.

The Spanish online gambling regulator, Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ) recently opened a bidding process for operators interested to enter its iGaming market. DGOJ expects that at least ten more operators will join the current group of over 50 gaming companies servicing Spanish players with a license from the regulatory body.

It is believed that Portugal will join shortly after the initial launch of the Franco-Spanish tables. However, it still remains unknown when Italy will be able to go live with shared player pools. While the exact reason about the delayed launch of the project remains unknown, it can be speculated that it is due to the fact that the country’s gambling regulator is yet to open a bidding process for renewing licenses of existing operators and admitting new operators to the local market.

With the official start of the shared liquidity project, although only in Spain and France, it can be said that PokerStars and partypoker will be the two operators that will likely join the project upon launch as they are the only online poker operators to be holding licenses from the regulators of both countries.

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