Global Glance: Italy Advances, EU Denies Hungary

Global Glance: Italy Advances, EU Denies Hungary
Europe news mixes with Brazil update this week

The weekly Global Glance takes a look 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.

Another week brought more news about the European online poker liquidity project, as Italy finally showed signs of advancement. Elsewhere in Europe, however, the European Union rejected Hungary’s online gaming framework. Speaking of framework, the Remote Gambling Association published some new guidelines. And across the world, Brazil could vote on a bill any day that would legalize many forms of gambling, including online poker, or it could be squashed as legislators change the bill.

Italy Shows Signs of Liquidity Life

The shared online poker liquidity project has been advancing quickly for PokerStars in France and Spain, and Winamax is working hard to join network as soon as possible. But Italy has been the only country among the four that seemed to be having second thoughts and taking its time preparing to share online poker tables.

That seems to be changing. The Italian government finished the required technical testing, the results of which were positive and will be published. Once that takes place, it may only be a short time before PokerStars’ Italian site can join the European network with France and Spain.

The holdup at this point is the Italian governmental elections taking place, with the results and possible upheaval to follow. The campaigning was quite contentious, and the winner could change the entire face of Italian politics. While this is unlikely to have much effect on the online poker agreement, which was signed last year, it could further delay the Italian online gaming regulator from moving forward with any expediency. All of this should become clearer this week.

Portugal Moves Closer for PokerStars

Considering there is currently only one licensed poker site in Portugal, it wasn’t a stretch to believe that it would soon be greenlit for the shared liquidity with France and Spain.

Last week, we reported that Portugal did complete and publish its online poker technical standards, and PokerStars was preparing to implement its “Seat Me” function to match the platform currently working for Spanish and French players. And days later, PokerStars contacted its Portuguese players to inform them about the upcoming implementation, which is now scheduled for March 6.

Once that takes place, Portugal should be ready to join the others within weeks – or possibly even days.

Brazil Online Poker in Question

The fight for online poker in Brazil has been combined with a larger push for an overall expansion of the gambling industry, which was set to legalize everything from land-based casinos to internet gaming. Since 2014, the movement has overcome obstacles and delays in all forms, the latest happening at the beginning of 2018 when the topic was abruptly booted from a meeting agenda by the Constitution and Justice Commission.

In the middle of February, it was reported that there would be a Senate vote on the bill by the end of the month. Instead, the Ministry of Tourism stepped in with a new piece of legislation to only legalize land-based casino-resorts. A Brazilian deputy then gave a rousing speech to the Chamber of Deputies requesting that the Ministry of Tourism be stopped from promoting that bill.

Another contentious fight erupted and has yet to play out. What results is yet another delay for any type of legalized online poker and gambling in Brazil.

EU Rejects Hungary’s Online Gaming Proposal

Hungary has been trying to finalize its online gambling regulations but ran into problems when the European Commission took issue with one of its requirements for operators.

Hungary wanted to require online poker and casino game operators to establish a land-based casino in order to qualify for a license. But the European Court of Justice ruled on that issue last week and decided against Hungary. Essentially, the court said that a member state cannot “require an offline activity as a pre-requisite to provide online gambling services as this is in conflict with EU law.”

As this is the second decision against Hungary in this matter, the Hungarian regulator must return to the drawing board and revise its framework.

RGA Promotes Good Practices

The Remote Gambling Association is the trade organization whose members are licensed to offer gambling services in Europe. Last week, it published its latest data and recommendations for its members entitled “Behavioural Analytics: RGA Good Practice Guidelines.”

The essence of the guidelines is to encourage online gambling operators to focus on providing a safer gambling environment for their customers. The guidelines were devised through analyzing research and customer data, all with the purpose of devising operator policies, standards for customer interactions, staff training, and monitoring for markers of harm.

According to RGA executive Clive Hawkswood, the suggestions within the report had a purpose: “We have a collective responsibility to use what we do know, and can do, to the best effect. Although many operators already have systems that go far beyond what is described in these guidelines, we hope they will provide a cross-industry benchmark and a sound starting point.”

About Jennifer Newell

Jennifer began writing about poker while working at the World Poker Tour in the mid-2000s. Since then, her freelance writing career has taken her from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back to her hometown of St. Louis, where she now lives with her two dogs. She continues to follow the poker world as she also launches a new subscription box company and finishes her first novel. Jennifer has written for numerous publications including PokerStars.com and has followed the US poker and gaming market closely for the last 15 years. Follow Jen on Twitter

Disclaimer: The information on this site is my interpretation of the laws as made available online. It is in no way meant to serve as legal advice or instruction. We recommend that you seek legal advice from a licensed attorney for further or official guidance.

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