PokerStars Granted Portuguese Poker License

On Monday, Portugal’s gambling regulator Serviços de Regulação e Inspeção de Jogos (SRIJ) announced that PokerStars had become the country’s first operator to be granted an official gambling license. In addition to its poker products, the brand will also be allowed to offer casino games on its site.
In July 2015, PokerStars exited Portugal’s online market after a series of online gambling reforms was enacted aimed at raising more than €25 million in annual tax revenues for the government. Out of respect for the new licensing regime, and for fear of being branded a black market operator, PokerStars subsequently withdrew from the market, but is now free to return fully in compliance with the new laws.
PokerStars also recently announced a possible withdrawal from Australia’s online gambling market after the country announced it would soon pass a bill to crack down on internet gambling operations. Despite having half of Australia’s population, PokerStars has said that accessing the Portuguese market will help the company offset any losses it expects to incur from withdrawing from the Antipodean country of around 23 million people.
Nevertheless, it still remains to be seen just how lucrative the Portuguese market will prove as its government has previously flip-flopped on the issue of whether to allow its poker players to compete against those based in other countries. While current legislation actually permits international liquidity-sharing, it only makes allowances for consumer licenses, and not poker networks. This, of course, will not affect PokerStars as it is a stand alone site that also attracts a strong brand loyalty and following amongst its players.
Still, PokerStars is hoping that down the line the country will eventually open itself up to liquidity sharing inside a desegregated European market, and as Amaya CEO Rafi Ashkenazi explained last week:
“We are going to roll out Portugal very lightly on a closed liquidity basis initially before it will be opened up to a .com liquidity, in which we hope to [blend] all our premium liquidity together with France and Italy, but this will take probably some time.”

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