Global Glance: Euro Liquidity and India Poker Market Thrive

Global Glance: Euro Liquidity and India Poker Market Thrive
PokerStars and PartyPoker featured in recent global poker news

The weekly Global Glance looks at the online poker scene around the world. What happens with online poker and gambling beyond America’s borders can and often does impact the state of online poker in the United States.

Due to the author of this series being out of service last week, we must catch up on two weeks of global online poker news. PartyPoker is still prepping for its launch of a French/Spanish poker site that will put it up against PokerStars in the new liquidity network, while France and PokerStars both show positive returns from that shared liquidity. Poker continues to thrive in India. Ireland wants to revamp its gambling regulations, while Bulgaria pushes for changes in its own and Norway hits troubled waters with its laws.

PartyPoker Preps for European Liquidity

Months after PokerStars became the first online poker site to share player liquidity with Spanish and French players, PartyPoker is very close to doing the same. Several reports indicated the launch date for the larger site was to be at the end of April or beginning of May, but there have been delays.

While the final approvals were recorded in April from French and Spanish regulators, PartyPoker wanted to complete some overall upgrades and make some changes so the French and Spanish sites are compatible for the joint launch.

All indications are that the France-Spain site will launch this week. All eyes will be on PartyPoker to see how its cash game traffic numbers and the overall rollout are completed as compared to the PokerStars launch earlier this year.

France Benefits from Liquidity

French online gambling regulator ARJEL reported revenue for the first quarter of 2018, and numbers are up, even for online poker. This could very well be a boost from the newly shared market, though only PokerStars has opened its French-Spanish liquidity-enabled site thus far.

Online poker was up 18%, a significant number as compared to previous periods. The overall poker player base rose 6%, and turnover of operators grew 5%.

ARJEL reported that online betting was up 55% for January through March year-on-year, setting a new record. Licensed sports betting operators collected $1 billion during the period, setting yet another record in the regulated market.

PokerStars Revenue Up

It should be no surprise that the Stars Group reported an overall 23% revenue increase in the first quarter of this year. The revenue stood at $393 million for the period. CEO Rafi Ashkenazi attributed it to “our organic growth trajectory,” but it is also a reflection on its moves within the industry, especially recent acquisitions like Sky Betting & Gaming.

PokerStars also showed growth, with revenue up to $245.9 million, an increase of 12.4% year-on-year. This is attributed to the success of Stars Rewards across multiple verticals, but it may also be a product – at least in part – of the new European liquid market, as PokerStars launched its Spanish/French site early in the year.

India Poker Market Thrives

As poker grows in India through its new regulated market, people are noticing. A recent article by Entrepreneur India discussed businesses like MadOverPoker and Spartan Poker that are among the companies to rise from the ever-growing popularity of the game.

The numbers also prove the growth is real. In a report by Frost & Sullivan, the Indian gaming market was estimated to have delivered $338.4 million in revenue in 2017 but is likely to grow threefold in four years. The forecast puts the market at a worth of $1.1 billion by 2021.

An increase in online poker awareness is one of the factors, as well as consistently-improving payment processing and more options for players, such as subscription-based poker. The market will also mimic nearby markets in Asia and the Middle East. But mobile poker options are the biggest forces for growth, as in so many other markets around the world.

Irish Government Seeks Regulations

The new gambling regulations were introduced by Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan, and the Irish government agreed not to oppose them.

The oversight of the country’s gambling industry would include advertising restrictions on television and online, and a new independent gambling regulator would be established in order to manage it all. The group would not only be able to impose fines but monitor individual gamblers for hardships caused by gambling and shut down accounts of those losing amounts they may be unable to sustain.

Pending a nonpartisan review of the proposed regulations, the government will move forward.

Industry to Ignore Norway Regulations?

While Norway’s legislature passed a new set of regulations last week to more strictly regulate the online gambling industry, it may not have the effect they hope for. In fact, many online gambling companies based outside of Norway indicate it will not change the way they do business.

A spokesperson for ComeOn claimed the new regulations will have “little to no impact” on its business, and the measures are only a symbolic gesture to maintain the country’s monopoly and avoid licensing other gambling companies for its market. Kindred Group commented along the same lines.

The purpose of the new laws was to discourage offshore gaming operators from targeting players in Norway, as that business is supposed to be relegated solely to two Norwegian companies. The regulations were crafted by a coalition of parties within the government in order to grant broader authority to block operator access and impose harsh penalties on those who continue to target Norwegians.

Bulgaria Bill Finds Support

The gambling bill in Bulgaria continues to garner more support. After the Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria – the country’s ruling party – endorsed the new gambling regime, the Bulgarian Socialist Party also joined in that support.

There are some proposed changes to the originally submitted bill, but the parties agree on the major points. The result of its passage as is will be stricter regulations regarding all gambling advertisements and greater efforts to address underage and problem gambling.

 

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