PokerStars Becomes Portugal’s First Licensed Online Poker Operator
After a long wait, the world’s largest online poker website, PokerStars finally received the first gaming license by the Portuguese gaming regulator Regulação e Inspeção de Jogos (SRIJ). The only other company who has a valid license to offer online gaming in Portugal is REEL Europe Limited who has been permitted to offer sports wagering through BetStars.
In a statement, Eric Hollreiser, Amaya’s Vice-President of Corporate Communications said, “This approval demonstrates our commitment to the responsible growth of online gaming by supporting local regulation that protects players, creates a viable marketplace and provides revenue for local governments.”
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Portugal will become the fifth segregated market that the online gaming company operates in. The Amaya inc. subsidiary hopes to share liquidity with other segregated markets, on a worldwide basis or just between France, Italy and Spain, if agreements are worked out.
Shared liquidity can only be finalized after Portugal’s legislation approves shared liquidity. Subsequently SRIJ will be required to submit a proposal for the same, which will be reviewed for three months by the European Commission. Thus, this move cannot just materialize overnight.
PokerStars as of now has received a license that allows the online gaming company to only offer Hold’em and Omaha in cash games and tournament form as well as Blackjack and French roulette to players in Portugal. Online poker in Portugal would be ‘ring fenced’. Online poker needs a strong player pool to survive and restricting the player pool or ring-fencing online poker to just those within the nation’s borders will makes regulation more simple and help bring in more number of online poker players.
PokerStars had earlier operated in Portugal but decided to withdraw from the country once new gambling laws were passed by legislators which made PokerStars a grey market operator. Once the rules and regulations were made clear, PokerStars decided to apply for a fresh gaming license and is expected to shortly launch online poker services in the country.
Portugal has imposed a number of stringent regulations on the online gambling industry making it difficult for the industry to function at optimum level. Regulators have set the tax rate at a rate that could keep some operators out of the market entirely. Operators with less than €5 million in gross gaming revenue are required to pay a 15 percent tax, while it is 30 percent for operators with more than €10 million.