Universally accessed, border-free online poker - at least in Europe - is showing signs of resurgence from its ashes.
At least that's the impression left after an announcement today from French gaming regulator ARJEL.
On July 6 the Regulatory Authorities of France, Italy, Spain and Portugal will sign an agreement for the shared liquidity of online poker.
As communicated by the General Directorate of Game Management:
"This agreement will lay the foundations for cooperation between the signatory authorities in such a framework and will be followed by developments within each jurisdiction that are necessary in order to make liquidity possible for the game of poker. "
After years of being in walled off, segregated markets, this is great news for French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese poker players and means the opening of internet frontiers for players.
It also likely means a surge in new poker offerings from licensed online rooms to bring in new recreational players and expand the player pool even further.
Regulators make it happen.
In the Works Since Last May
The agreement between Spain, France, Italy and Portugal didn't emerged from nowhere.
Last May regulators from Germany, Austria, Spain, France, Italy, Portugal and the United Kingdom held a meeting in Lisbon where several aspects of administrative cooperation between the parties were discussed.
Issues such as money laundering and terrorist financing, new games, virtual currencies, cross border enforcement and prevention of fraud were discussed.
Shortly after the DGOJ held a meeting with the Danish Regulatory Authority (Spillemyndigheden), whose legislation is very similar to the Spanish one, and where also conversations of future were held.
UK, Germany Not Included for Now
While the inclusion of major poker playing populations like the UK, Germany and Scandinavia would be a dream it will be the countries of "Southern Europe" that take the first step on July 6 in Rome.
Adding UK would be nice, too.
France, Spain, Italy and Portugal will give their online players the opportunity to do something they have advocated for for years: to play amongst each other.
The expanded player pool will likely inspire poker rooms like PokerStars, PartyPoker and 888poker to consider organizing tournaments that take into account the overall pool of players from all four countries (although some operators are not yet licensed in some countries, like 888poker in Portugal).
It's also well known that the #1 French poker operator, Winamax, is preparing its entry into Spain, Portugal and Italy.
Details of the implementation are still to be sorted but the framework for cooperation should be in place the begin the process starting as early as next week.
w/ files from Alvaro Quiros.