- Shared Liquidity Agreement discussions could make poker more profitable for players and operators
- Future lies in the hands of political discussion
Itai Frieberger, CEO of gambling giant 888 has announced that – with the current discussions regarding the so-called Shared Liquidity Agreement – 888 is looking to bring its brand of online poker to Italy in the coming months.
The Shared Liquidity Agreement is a proposal to end the balkanisation of poker rooms in certain European nations like Italy, France, Portugal and Spain, where the local regulators do not allow their online poker rooms to accept players from other countries.
This is in contrast to the UK’s system, where a cosmopolitan melange of Russians, Scandies, East Asians, Canadians and Britons can clash in a pool that allows the players liquidity to be shared across borders.
In an effort to expand the appeal of online poker the Shared Liquidity Agreement would use something similar to the UK model to allow Italian, French, Portuguese and Spanish players to compete with each other in a shared pool.
Italy an obvious choice
Frieberger discussed this saying: “We follow the new EU shared liquidity discussions and are working to launch 888 Poker in Italy,” at an earnings call for investors on the September 5.
So Italy may represent a toe-in-the-water test for larger expansion in Europe.
After 888 closed down on its efforts in partnership with the Microgaming network in France, it may consider its Italian move as another step towards a model in Europe that may work across multiple nations.
Frieberger will most likely be looking to exploit 888’s established presence in Spain where the only major competition comes from PokerStars.
Having a group of customers who can fill the tables day round may give 888 an important edge in the competitive and mature online poker market, where People’s Poker and the iPoker Network both have well established rooms fighting each other over what PokerStars leaves behind.
At the moment, this Italian set-up remains a proposal with its precise details no doubt hinging both on the political and market responses to the Liquidity Sharing discussions over the next few months.
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