French Senate Vote Paves Way For Shared iPoker LiquidityMay 5, 2016 10:47 am
It seems like France is finally ready to accept that the decision to ring-fence its online poker market may have been a mistake. As a result, the country’s Senate has now voted to pass an amendment to the Digital Bill which will allow the gambling regulator ARJEL to approve shared liquidity with that of other European online poker markets.
One limitation, however, is that the rule applies only to “circle games”, in other words those type of poker games authorized by ARJEL, which currently just includes Hold’em and Omaha. In addition, shared liquidity only applies to those players who hold an account from a regulated EU jurisdiction, suggesting sites that allow players from the rest of the world may be excluded from any potential deal .
ARJEL’s next likely move will now be to establish an agreement with the other main ring-fenced markets of Italy and Spain, with Germany another potential future candidate once the country makes the necessary changes to its State Treaty on Gambling. These countries alone would have a combined population of 250 million people, which would act as a powerful enticement for other EU states to join the liquidity sharing pact.
Needless to say, PokerStars stands to be a chief beneficiary of any such development as it is currently the market leader in both Italy and Spain, as well as second only to Winamax in France. An extended liquidity sharing agreement would therefore see it automatically propelled to a number one position amongst its competitors, with all the synergistic growth and marketing advantages that would afford.
In the meantime, the French Senate still has a number of challenges ahead before the amendment passes into law, including making the Digital Bill’s wording compatible with that of the text previously approved by the country’s lower house, the Chamber of Deputies. All being well, this should be completed by the end of 2016, with a liquidity sharing pact with other EU countries expected sometime in early 2017.