GVC Holdings flagship poker brand PartyPoker is making plans to launch its European Union cross-border liquidity pool, although players in those four regulated markets will have to wait another few months (at least).
Last week, the official PartyPoker Representative informed the TwoPlusTwo poker forum that the brand would launch its cross-border liquidity pool “in the coming months.” The apparent plan is to start by linking PartyPoker’s French- and Spanish-licensed sites, but will “likely” extend to Italy and Portugal in due course.
Last July, gaming regulators in France, Italy, Portugal and Spain agreed on a framework to allow their online poker licensees to pool their players. To date, only The Stars Group’s PokerStars brand has launched cross-border pooling between its French and Spanish sites, but French operator Winamax is working feverishly to launch similar cross-border operations.
The PartyPoker rep had no further specifics on timelines, but did say the shared liquidity pool “will be country-specific and will not be open to .com players.” PokerStars is allowing players from other markets to join the pool via its Spanish site provided they don’t hail from a market that has enacted its own online gambling legislation.
GVC has other brands that are active in Italy but PartyPoker.it shut down in July 2016, meaning GVC would have to relaunch the brand or steer players to its other brands. Italian regulators have also offered no guidance on when they might approve the necessary regulations to permit liquidity sharing, although local politicians have reassured their counterparts in the other three markets that they intend to respect last July’s agreement.
PartyPoker is also not licensed in Portugal, which has to date only issued one online poker license (to PokerStars). In fact, no GVC brand currently holds any type of Portuguese license.
All of which means PartyPoker may indeed combine their French and Spanish player pools in a couple months after receiving regulatory approval. But players in the other two markets aren’t advised to hold their breath.
GVC has done a remarkable job of reinvigorating PartyPoker since GVC acquired the operations of Bwin.party digital entertainment a few years ago. PartyPoker’s turnaround was singled out in GVC’s H1 2017 earnings report and GVC appears intent on ensuring that PartyPoker can compete with PokerStars in EU regulated markets and beyond.