Online Poker in Spain Buoyed by Shared Liquidity Innovations

June 1st, 2018 | by Jason Reynolds

Online poker in Spain enjoyed a major upswing during the first three months of 2018 thanks to the first stages of its long-awaited liquidity sharing pact with France, Italy and Portugal.

revenue up

Online poker revenue in Spain improved by 27 percent thanks to shared liquidity. (Image: techprevue.com)

Outlining the industry’s first quarter earnings, the Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ) noted a 27 percent improvement in year-on-year poker revenue.

Although liquidity sharing only came into effect in the latter half of January thanks to PokerStars, rake was up €21 million ($24.5 million).

Impressive Improvements Across the Board

Looking at the specifics, cash game revenue was up by almost 30 percent to $9.8 million, while tournaments generated 50.2 percent more rake compared to Q1 2017. Helping to fuel the surge in poker revenue was a new tournament series.

With PokerStars’ FRESH (France Espania Hold’em) offering a $6 million prizepool and 50 tournaments, players in France and Spain had an extra incentive to ante up between January 28 and February 12. The subsequent spike in traffic boosted Spain’s and France’s quarterly takings.

According to the French regulator ARJEL, Q1 poker revenue was up by eight percent to $81.8 million. Even in its infancy, liquidity sharing has proved profitable not just for poker operators but the gaming sector as a whole.

In addition to Spain’s positive poker performance, casino, sports betting and bingo all saw revenue jumps in Q1. Of that trio, casino operators saw the biggest improvement with earnings increasing by 51 percent to $66 million.

Sharing Could Hold the Key to Poker’s Ongoing Success

Looking forward, PokerStars has added Portugal to its Franc-Spanish platform in May, a move which should result in extra liquidity and, in turn, more revenue potential. Away from the market leader, Winamax and Unibet’s French platform have also been given the green light to integrate players from Spain, Italy and Portugal.

With operators in ring-fenced markets struggling under the yokes of regulation and taxation in recent years, positive revenue reports from Spain and France should be seen as a turnaround. In fact, it’s a similar across the Atlantic with liquidity sharing also showing its benefits.

As WSOP.com’s tristate platform went live in New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware back April, players were given access to more tournaments and loyalty rewards.

This trend of sharing players across regulated markets is one that could continue into the foreseeable future. With early adoptees proving that collaborations work, regions pondering regulation could look to merge with existing playerpools which, in turn, could improve liquidity across Europe and the US.

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