Spain, France, Italy, and Portugal agreed to forge a shared liquidity agreement in May 2017 for their respective online poker markets. This was in response to the four countries' weakening online poker markets. The shared liquidity agreement would create a bigger poker market and boost player enthusiasm and prize pools. Spain and France were the first to launch shared liquidity operations in Jan and poker players from both countries have enjoyed the shared liquidity agreement.
Portugal recently announced that it would join France and Spain in the shared liquidity agreement, as they had put everything in place to proceed with shared liquidity operations.
The Serviço Regulação e Inspeção de Jogos do Turismo de Portugal (SRIJ) is the body that regulates online gambling in in Portugal. SRIJ announced that it has approved the regulations for authorizing cross-border liquidity sharing.
However unlike their French and Spanish counterparts, Portuguese online poker players will need to wait a bit. When Spain and France confirmed that shared liquidity arrangements were in place, PokerStars was quick to launch operations and became the first online poker operator to set up Spanish-France online poker rooms. PokerStars has gaming licenses to operate in all four countries but the online poker operator has stated that it will not enter the Portuguese market immediately and will wait till the second quarter to do so.
The regulations published by the SRIJ discuss the technical requirements for liquidity sharing, but there are also some legal restrictions to follow. The Portuguese authorities changed their main laws so that they closely followed gaming regulations adopted by Spain.
One of the new regulations is for the allowance for Portuguese-licensed operators to share liquidity with platforms in other jurisdictions, as long as they met SRIJ technical specifications. While the initial shared liquidity agreement was expected to be amongst the four countries, it now appears that Portugal could encourage other markets to join in. Finally, there's some extra action in the form of sports betting between players. This opens the door for some cross-border betting and can potentially boost markets across all four countries.
Now that Portugal has confirmed shared liquidity operations, only Italy remains aloof. The country has been very silent about its shared liquidity plans since it first declared its support. There was a lot of anti-shared liquidity sentiment in the country last October when politicians clamored about potential problem gambling and local operators complaining about unfair competition. However, the country has still not made any public refusal of the liquidity agreement and Winamax has already purchased an Italian gaming licence for bet-at-home. Many analysts suspect that Italy's legislature will only move on the issue after the upcoming elections in March.