Last month, the gaming regulator in Portugal announced that the country's soon-to-be-launched regulated online poker market will be closed to international liquidity and will ring-fence players on dot-pt rooms.
In December, SRIJ Director and Head of Online Gambling Manuela Bandeira explained in a conference that, while players will be segregated when licensing regime begins, the ultimate goal is international liquidity.
"International liquidity is important for poker, as it allows small markets to be be more competitive," Bandeira explained. "It's not a simple issue and we need to work more closely with other regulatory bodies from different countries in order to understand how to make it work."
Additionally, it is believed that Portugal will be following the model of France, meaning that players in Portugal would be obligated to play at SRIJ licensed dot-pt poker rooms. However, these rooms would also be allowed to accept players residing in other countries as well.
The decision to segregate the market, even if it is temporary, is not sitting well with many online poker players in Portugal. ANAon, the Portuguese Player Association,announced a few days ago that unless the gaming regulator reverses course and allows players to participate in international liquidity that they will be boycotting Portuguese licensed sites in protest. This is even true if licensed online poker rooms allow players from other countries.
"This position of ANAon of poker players intended to alert the Portuguese regulator (SRIJ) will not use the Portuguese case rooms open only to domestic liquidity, or the style of the French model that accepts foreigners provided they register at the Portuguese platform," stated ANAon.
According to PokerFuse, SRIJ is waiting for the EU Commission to approve the regulations it has set forth, which has delayed the regulator from issuing any gaming licenses. The situation has created unintended consequences of the biggest and most reputable online poker rooms temporarily pulling out of the Portuguese marketplace over the past six months, leading many players in the country to take their business to less reputable grey-market online poker rooms.
Consumer protection and encouraging players to play on reputable and regulated online poker rooms is one of the targets of the new licensing regime. Regulation appears to be having the opposite effect in the short-term with the EU Commission delays, and this can continue in the long-term with the proposed ring-fenced marketplace leading to a ANAon-sponsored player boycott.