[toc]This week, the four largest segregated online poker markets in Europe are planning to sign a deal that allows them to share liquidity and players across countries.
Spain, Portugal, France, and Italy currently only allow players to play online poker within the borders of that country against their compatriots.
Joint statement from regulators
A joint statement from the regulatory bodies of the four countries confirmed the deal. The quartet should sign the deal on Wednesday.
“This agreement will set the basis for cooperation between the signing authorities and will be followed by further necessary steps within each of the jurisdictions involved in order to effectively allow for liquidity poker tables.”
Ringfenced online poker in Europe
Unlike the US, European online poker has been largely prosperous. It is also unchallenged by law, for the most part.
However, despite many of Europe’s major markets operating as part of a global player pool, certain countries have closed off their online poker players. They require them to play within their own countries.
Other countries, such as Denmark and the UK, operate as part of the global poker network. They also have additional taxes and regulations for online poker operators.
Online poker in Italy
Italy was the first European country to regulate and ringfence online poker. It did so in 2007 with the Finance Act.
This legalised and regulated online poker as a game of skill. The state recognises online poker as distinctly different from games of pure chance. Originally, this meant Italian online poker could only offer poker tournaments. However, an update to the law allowed for cash games.
Online poker in France
France regulated and segregated online poker in 2010 under the French Gambling Act. Online poker had been very popular in France for years at offshore and international gambling sites. Then the French government sought to license and regulate the games for security and taxes.
Online poker in Spain
The Spanish Gaming Act passed in 2011 and came into law in 2012. It restricts Spanish poker players to playing against their countrymen in Spain. Poker operators had to meet strict conditions in order to receive a license. The sites also pay taxes to the Spanish government.
Online poker in Portugal
Portugal is the most recent European country to segregate online poker. The Portugal-facing skin of PokerStars briefly became the second-largest online poker site in the world when the legislation first passed.