Online Poker Launch Delayed in Portugal

Across the globe, various countries are deciding whether or not to offer online poker gaming. While most areas have some form of regulation in place or are currently working on laws to enter the market, there are areas where online poker is prohibited. In Portugal, the country was not one that offer legalized and regulated online poker gaming until just over a year ago. Despite having passed regulation for online gambling, the country has yet to launch regulated sites. Now it seems that poker players will have to wait just a little bit longer as a delay has been made, pushing back the launch until November of this year.

So far, only one gaming operator has received a license to offer online games in the regulated market. Betclic.PT was able to go live in May to offer sports betting options thanks to a license in the sports betting industry. Players were able to take part in the UEFA European Championship and it was believed that other operators would be gaining licensing in the near future.

Now, there has been no new licenses granted to sports wagering operators in more than a month and poker licenses are thought to be delayed due to shared liquidity issues. Back in December of last year, Manuela Bandeira, the SRIJ Head of Online Gambling, made an announcement during a conference that the iPoker market would be ring fenced and not part of international liquidity. This is something that is done in other jurisdictions such as Spain and Italy.

In April of this year, the country of Portugal decided to change their position. The SRIJ commented during a meeting with ANAon that they would allow international liquidity for players of online poker with a caveat in place. This caveat would be that business-to-business licenses that allow for the sharing of liquidity between online poker operators on a single network would be prohibited from taking place. Just last week, ANAon announced in a statement that two proposals are currently under review by the SRIJ that included one that would permit online poker shared liquidity.

The SRIJ must now decide which path they are willing to move forward with. Once a decision is made, the SRIJ will need to submit a proposal to the European Commission. When this is done, a three month time frame will begin in which the other European countries are allowed to comment.

For now, online poker players in Portugal will have to wait until November to see if online poker gaming will be coming to the country. It will most likely take longer due to this delay and decisions needing to be made on the matter. Online poker sites have already exited the country some time ago as the area is considered a grey market.

A grey market is one that does not specifically legalize or make it illegal to play online poker. Such sites as PokerStars exited the country last year to remain off the radar for potential prosecution for operating in the country. Operators are hoping that legislation will be put in place that will allow for gaming to begin without the risk of legal ramifications.

In the meantime, Portugal is losing tax revenues that could go to the country as players are still playing at sites that offer services within the country. Players have the choice of competing at such sites or waiting to enjoy online poker gaming until the country decides to launch the option. Only time will tell if Portugal will decide to move forward or if players will still be waiting to take part in the online gambling activity.