888 Holdings becomes Portugal’s second online poker licensee


888-holdings-portugal-online-casino-poker-licenseUK-listed online gambling operator 888 Holdings has been issued an online casino and poker license in Portugal.

On Monday, Portugal’s Serviço Regulação e Inspeção de Jogos do Turismo de Portugal (SRIJ) regulatory body announced that it had issued an online gambling license on January 14 to 888 Portugal Limited, which will operate in the country using the 888.pt domain.

Specifically, 888’s new license 888 authorizes the company to offer online slots and French roulette, as well as multiple poker variants. The casino product has already gone live on the new site although the poker page currently consists of a ‘get ready cuz poker is coming’ message.

When 888’s poker product does arrive, poker players in Portugal’s regulated online market will finally have an alternative to The Stars Group’s PokerStars brand, which has had the local market all to itself since PokerStars.pt launched in November 2016.

888’s diploma marks the 16th license that the SRIJ has issued since Betclic Everest launched the country’s first locally regulated website in May 2016. However, those 16 licenses are held by only 10 operators, most of whom offer only sports betting and casino products.

Poker tournaments and cash games accounted for a 16.7% share of Portugal’s regulated online market in Q3 2018, the last full report issued by the SRIJ. While that share was higher than roulette, the poker share was much higher (20.4%) in the Q2 report.

Portugal, along with regulated operators in France and Spain, signed a cross-border poker liquidity sharing deal in July 2017, which gave these markets’ perennially struggling poker verticals a revenue boost (at least, initially).

Earlier this month, regulators in these three markets issued a joint statement to mark the first anniversary of the first operator (PokerStars) launching shared liquidity. The regulators wanted to “express their general satisfaction for the evolution of this new shared online ecosystem.”

The regulators noted that the online poker vertical had “improved its situation, presenting positive figures” while there had been “no significant incidents” following the implementation of shared liquidity. The regulators invited regulators in other European Union and European Economic Area markets to consider joining their shared liquidity pool.