Portugal’s gambling regulator SRIJ has recently authorized 888 to share poker liquidity with Spain. News about the operator receiving regulatory green light to join the shared online poker liquidity project arrive a little over five months after 888 received a license to operate in the Portuguese market.
The shared liquidity project was launched early in 2018 and was the result of prolonged negotiations between the gambling regulators of France, Spain, Italy, and Portugal. The project was introduced in a bid to revitalize Europe’s underperforming online poker segment. Italy later on dropped out from the scheme, but France, Spain, and Portugal have moved on to its materialization.
PokerStars was the first operator to join the project. It was allowed to start sharing tables in France and Spain in January 2018. The Portuguese gambling regulator later on allowed the operator to merge its Portuguese pool with its French and Spanish ones.
As mentioned earlier, 888 was granted a license by SRIJ early this year, more than two and a half years after the regulation of the Portuguese market. The operator was only the second one to receive the go-ahead to operate online poker in the country. PokerStars was the first poker brand to enter the local gambling space and that happened late in 2018.
As per an announcement published on the official website of SRIJ on June 27, 888 was authorized to share liquidity in Texas Hold’em and Omaha poker variants in both cash games and tournaments.
The shared liquidity authorization could possibly be the final step before the eventual launch of Portugal’s second online poker room. While it is still unknown when 888 will go live with online poker in the country, its Portuguese website suggest that it is going to happen soon. And it is yet to be seen how the local regulated poker scene will change once there is one more room players can opt for.
The launch of poker and shared liquidity will also coincide with the Portuguese roll-out of 888’s new poker software Poker 8. The new incarnation of the operator’s poker software went live early this year on its .com website. While it has a plethora of new features, at first glance, it provides players with a sense of familiarity as both the tournament and cash game lobbies are pretty much the same.
However, the Settings menu offers players the chance to customize their profile, playing backgrounds, and card decks, among others.
Last year, Portugal saw a considerable annual increase in online gambling revenue, with sports betting being the main driver of growth and the online casino segment trailing not too far behind. Revenue from digital betting totaled €78.9 million on turnover of €391.8 million. Portugal’s online casino sector recorded revenue of €73.2 million, up from €54.4 million generated the prior year. Overall stakes places on casino games and poker exceeded €2 billion in 2018.
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