Italy Conducts Technical Verification to Join Shared Online Poker Liquidity Scheme
The Italian government is currently conducting a verification process in relation to the country’s participation in the shared online poker liquidity project, Pier Paolo Baretta, Undersecretary of State at the Finance Ministry, told local gambling news outlet GiocoNews earlier this week during a public event.
While the politician did not provide more specific details about the ongoing verification, it is believed that it is of technical nature.
Italy was one of four countries to sign the shared liquidity agreement last July in Rome. Two of the participating countries – France and Spain – officially started the project last week, with PokerStars becoming the first operator go live with shared Franco-Spanish tables.
Asked about details on a timeframe within which Italy will open its segregated online poker market for players from its partners in the project, Mr. Baretta said that a verification process is under way and once it is completed and the results from it are known, a decision will be made on when and how the country will join the scheme.
As GiocoNews noted, Mr. Baretta’s comments were the first made by an Italian official in relation to shared liquidity for months now. While it is still unknown when exactly Italy will be able to enter the project, many have previously speculated that this might happen in the fourth quarter of the year.
Italy’s general election is slated to take place in early March, and it is believed that politicians might be a bit too busy with the upcoming political changes due to happen in the country and the shared liquidity scheme might be way down on their agenda at present.
Wave of Negativity
While the shared liquidity project has generally been received as a positive move that could give a much-needed boost to online poker in Europe’s ring-faced markets, it faced quite some opposition in Italy.
Last year, a number of politicians commented on the scheme, pointing to different issues that could arise from its launch. Italian Deputy Paola Binetti was among the project’s opponents. She has told local media that shared poker tables could come as an incentive for illegal activities and an increase in problem gambling rates.
The head of Italy’s Anti-Mafia Commission, Senator Franco Mirabelli, has also voiced concerns that the project could create conditions for money laundering and other illicit activities.
Spain’s gambling regulator DGOJ said that all four participating countries are EU jurisdictions, which means that they have to comply with the same EU Anti-Money laundering regulations. Thus, the shared liquidity scheme should be “as strong as ring-faced national liquidity”, the regulator went on to say.
Italy recently launched a call for tenders for operators interested to enter the local market or renew their existing Italian licenses. Such companies will be able to submit their applications up until March 19. The call for bids was published after months of delays, as the country was originally expected to launch it in mid-September 2017.
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