On Monday, the gaming overseers at Portugal’s Serviços de Regulação e Inspeção de Jogos (SRIJ) formally announced that they had issued an online gaming license to REEL Europe Ltd, an offshoot of PokerStars’ parent company Amaya Gaming, paving the way for the launch of the new Pokerstars.pt website.
The SRIJ’s License 005 entitles PokerStars to offer tournament poker, Hold’em and Omaha cash games, as well as blackjack and French roulette. The new website will mark the first time Portuguese players will be able to legally gamble on PokerStars since the company exited the market in July 2015 following the country’s adoption of new gambling regulation.
For the moment, Pokerstars.pt is still displaying a ‘coming soon’ type splash screen. When the site does eventually launch, action will be limited, as the diminutive Portuguese poker market will remain ring-fenced until a deal is struck to share liquidity with regulated markets in other European Union member states like France, Italy and Spain.
PokerStars is the first online poker operator formally approved by the SRIJ and the third online casino option. The previous four online licensees were issued to French operator Betclic Everest Group’s sports betting and casino sites, the Malta-based Bet Entertainment Technologies’ sportsbook and local brick-and-mortar casino operator Estoril Sol’s online casino site.
BWIN POKER LAUNCH IN BULGARIA
PokerStars has already made its official debut in Bulgaria’s new regulated market, and was joined by Bet365’s iPoker skin earlier this month (despite Bet365’s contentious history with local regulators).
The duo has now been joined by GVC Holdings’ Bwin.party, which launched a Bulgarian-licensed poker site under its Bwin brand. The company has informed players who held Bwin poker accounts before the country imposed its new licensing regime that their old account info is no longer valid and they’ll have to open new accounts.