Portugal has issued its fourth online gambling license, although the lucky recipient wasn’t exactly a new face.
Last Friday, national gambling regulator Serviço Regulação e Inspeção de Jogos do Turismo de Portugal (SRIJ) announced it had issued an online casino license to BEM Operations Ltd, aka the local subsidiary of French betting operator Betclic Everest Group, which operates in Portugal via the Betclic.pt domain.
Betclic already had a Portuguese online sports betting license, having become the very first operator that the SRIJ deemed sponge-worthy following the launch of the new regulated market in late April.
Portugal now has two licensed sports betting operators (the other being Malta-based Bet Entertainment Technologies) and two online casinos (the other being local land-based casino operator Estoril Sol).
Portgual has yet to issue its first online poker license, and that day may be a while in coming. Portugal’s population is a mere 10m – only about 1m more than New Jersey – and the consensus is that liquidity sharing with operators in other European Union regulated markets is required to make a Portuguese poker market viable.
Trouble is, Portugal’s government is dragging its heels in filing the necessary paperwork with the European Commission (EC) to make liquidity sharing a reality. Last week, local online gamblers association Anaon issued a statement expressing concern at the delay.
Anaon noted with some bitterness that five months have now passed since the deadline for comments on the government‘s most recent draft of its poker regulations – as well as draft regulations to permit exchange betting – yet still the final versions of these regulations have yet to be sent to the EC.
Even when Portuguese regulators finally get their act together, the EC imposes a mandatory standstill period of three to four months to allow other EU members to comment. Only after this period has expired will Portugal be able to proceed with issuing online poker licenses.
Anaon’s release noted that it has now been nearly 15 months since the government ordered international online gambling sites to exit the market if they wanted to be considered for licensing under the new regulated regime.