As the United States continues to struggle with online poker legislation especially with regards to interstate online gambling, the online poker industries in various European countries – Spain, France, and Portugal – are already reaping the fruits of liquidity sharing. According to a joint regulatory statement that was released recently, the cross-border pact between the three countries has been largely successful and was received very well by online poker players within the last 18 months it has existed – the countries entered into the liquidity sharing agreement in July 2017 but their poker operators received the liquidity sharing licenses in January 2018. All of the operators involved have reported that the decision to share online poker resources has been quite successful which was the objective of the initiative.
PokerStars at the Forefront
PokerStars is well known in the United States and the rest of the world which makes its strong presence in Europe not that surprising. However, its involvement in proving the benefits of liquidity sharing cannot be overlooked. According to the online poker operator, there has been a significant growth of the online poker business in Europe which can be seen from an increase in traffic over the last 12 months. After getting its liquidity sharing license approved, the poker operator hosted the Trio Series to players in Spain, Portugal, and France for the whole of June 2018. This drew in a massive field on 40,816 unique entries that were spread out across 78 separate multi-table tournaments.
Thanks to the massive success of PokerStars’ Trio Series, the company proceeded to organize the Southern Europe Championship of Online Poker (SECOOP), an inaugural 149 multi-table tournament online series that featured over 149 events and awarded upwards of €12 million in prize money. It liquidity sharing pool allowed over 38,000 players to participate in the series which even went further on to surpass its initial €10 million guarantee.
Could This Work Elsewhere?
Hopefully, yes. However, it goes without saying that a number of countries and jurisdictions are still struggling to make it work. While the European Union has been able to foster an environment where a shared liquidity online poker arrangement can thrive, countries like the United States are still imposing legislation that has impeded the growth of the industry. Case in point, the recent United States Department of Justice opinion on the 1961 Wire Act dealt a blow to the online poker plans by a number of states. The only way for the industry to get out of this fix would be to challenge the decision in the federal court of law but even then, there is no certainty that the courts will be convinced to rule in favor of the industry.