Shared Liquidity Still on the Cards in France, Italy and Spain Shared Liquidity Still on the Cards in France, Italy and Spain

The gaming regulators of Italy, Spain, France and Portugal met again in Paris earlier this week to discuss regulatory cooperation, information sharing, and the possibility of operators sharing liquidity between countries.

The four regulators hold informal talks twice a year, and this time the discussion centered on the same topics as last time: The social and public risks of online gambling, the need to exchange information, and the possibility of sharing liquidity where feasible.

“Agreements aimed at facilitating exchanges, particularly of operators’ liquidity, could be reached, according to national legislation,” French regulator ARJEL concluded in a press statement issued on Wednesday.

Since the last meeting, a new EU Action Plan was published, which laid out regulatory guidelines for Member States, and committed to pursuing pending infringement cases, but backed away from any specific measures.

The regulators reportedly “nourish the reflections called by the European Commission at the European level,” but cautioned that “there can only be effective administrative cooperation between countries that share these ambitious and compatible regulatory goals.”

The most compatible regulations appear to be between Spain and Italy, where a shared player pool is a real possibility next year. In July, Director General of the Spanish regulator stated The French were also receptive to the idea of shared player liquidity, “but has shown less willingness to act in the timeframe.”

However, progress was made between Spain and France with the signing of a formal info-sharing agreement in September.

All three countries have segregated player pools, and both Italy and France have seen significant declines in player numbers on regulated online poker sites, with many smaller operators struggling to compete without international liquidity.

Portugal, the fourth regulator in the meetings, is currently considering liberalizing its online gaming regulation, so Portuguese regulators will be taking notes on the successes and failures of its European partners.

There was also a presence from the German regulators, participating in these cooperative talks for the first time. Germany has a much stricter nationwide online gambling regulation, permitting only a restricted number of sports betting licenses and nothing for online poker. The UK was not present, though the French report “very fruitful discussions” with the British Gambling Commission. The UK will rework its regulation next year.

The regulatory authorities have also decided to publish consolidated market data twice a year.

The next meeting will be held in Lisbon in mid-2013, with Rome following at the end of the year.