Portugal has taken steps to legalize and regulate its online poker industry and does not approve of sharing liquidity with other countries around the world. The country wants to ring-fence its poker playing population just as France has done. Online poker rooms will soon be launched in Portugal, but they will accept only players from Portugal.

On December 1, Gambling Compliance organized a conference in Lisbon. The above-mentioned plan was publicly announced on this occasion. Manuela Bandeira, the online gambling head at the gambling authority of Portugal, was one of the participants. It was made clear at this meeting that Portugal will soon launch a ring-fenced online poker market like the ones already existing in France and Spain. However, Portugal does not plan to remain a ring-fenced market for long. It plans to weigh the pros and cons of sharing liquidity with other European countries at a later date.

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Bandeira said: “International liquidity is important for poker, as it allows small markets to be more competitive. It’s not a simple issue and we need to work more closely with other regulatory bodies from different countries in order to understand how to make it work.”

Bandeira later spoke to PokerNews Portugal and clarified that the country’s online poker market will be ring-fenced although the country’s regulatory body may change it in the future.

He said that the regulatory body in Portugal is well-aware of the fact that the online poker industry cannot thrive in a ring-fenced market and that steps will be taken to ensure that Portugal will soon start sharing liquidity with other ring-fenced markets such as France and Spain.

Bandeira said that online poker rooms will go live in Portugal by February 2016 if the European Union (EU) gives its approval.

In November 2015, Economico, a leading financial journal in Portugal, said that “national and international companies” have applied for a license to operate online poker services in Portugal. The regulatory body in Portugal refused to reveal the names of these applicants, but the Economico reported that Betfair, Betclic, and land-based casinos in Portugal are among those companies that have applied for an online poker license.

But PokerNews has reported that major international online poker companies such as 888poker, Full Tilt Poker, and PokerStars have also expressed interest in getting hold of a license to operate online poker rooms in Portugal as soon as the country legalizes and regulates its online poker industry.

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