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Today, the Official Gazette of the Spanish State published the Resolution by the Directorate General of Gaming (“DGG”), permitting the authorization of a different kind of liquidity to that generally used by players registered with a Spanish user name when participating in online poker games. Behind this lies one of the main measures the online gaming industry has been requesting for some time.

Up until now, Spanish regulations restricted the possibility to participate in games offered by licensed operators in Spain exclusively to players that were registered with those operators. This meant that the group of online players interested in playing together in Spain has, until now, been limited to players registered in Spain, preventing the players from playing with players from other countries. While this limitation is not significant for games against the house (roulette, black jack and bets against the house), in games in which the players compete against each other, this limitation significantly reduces the possibility of finding players with a similar level and, therefore, reduces the interest in the offer.

The liquidity restriction under Spanish law is understandable when we consider the circumstances when the online gaming regulatory framework was approved. At that time, the market was very uncertain and the Spanish authorities wanted to ensure they were completely in control. The market has matured over the years, becoming a benchmark for online gaming operators, both due to its players’ protection standards and the interest in regulated offers. Given this development, the DGG promotes a first step aimed at extending the number of players to other regulated markets where there are similar protection and security measures to those in Spain.

Therefore, in July 2017, the DGG signed with French, Italian and Portuguese gaming authorities an agreement under which the four regulators would permit operators working on their respective markets to offer shared poker games. So, when this agreement is in force, Spanish players will be able to play against French, Italian and Portuguese players at shared tables without having to abandon their respective national platforms. This will enable the community of poker players to grow considerably, offering greater possibilities to play against individuals with similar levels given the extension of the corresponding liquidity base.

Full implementation of this international agreement depends on the adoption by each of the signing authorities of the internal regulations permitting this system’s implementation. Spain and France are the first authorities to prepare these regulations (in the case of the DGG, through the resolution it published today in the Official Gazette of the Spanish State). Despite this, the system will not be fully implemented until all the participating authorities have approved the internal regulations required, which, according to news on this subject, will take a few more months in cases such as that of Italy.

In any case, this looks to be the first step towards a transformation of the European regulated markets, involving an increase in the number of players available on the markets. Also, it seems likely that other games affected by this issue, such as non-banking games, will soon also benefit from international liquidity systems.

This post is also available in: esEspañol

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albert.agustinoy@cuatrecasas.com

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