Global Glance: PartyPoker Readies for EU, 888 to Fight German Court

Global Glance: PartyPoker Readies for EU, 888 to Fight German Court
Germany, Brazil, Slovenia, France -- all with gaming 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.

European online poker liquidity was back in the news last week with the announcement of more licenses, meaning PartyPoker is set for its launch of a combined French and Spanish player pool. Italy hasn’t provided any Euro updates but did show tremendous growth for the month of March. 888 Holdings decided to fight back against the German court, while Slovenia and Brazil seem to have given up on their respective gambling bills. But to end on a positive note, the All-In Diversity Project grew by one more founding member in the past week – Microgaming.

ARJEL Clears More for Euro Liquidity

Autorité de régulation des jeux en ligne, also known as French regulator ARJEL, issued two new licenses that now have the authority to share online poker across country boundaries. B.E.S. SAS is a subsidiary of GVC’s bwin, and PMU (Pari Mutuel Urbain) has a PartyPoker skin. This allows GVC to enter the European liquidity network by combining French and Spanish sites.

PartyPoker announced its plan to launch PartyPoker.eu, combining its .es and .fr sites, later this month. In addition, there will be upgrades to go along with the launch. “Over the summer months,” read the notice, “further software improvements to both the Spanish and French clients will be rolled out and partypoker.eu players will also see a new MTT schedule and an overhauled MTT festival calendar.”

This was also accompanied by news that PartyPoker signed Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, a longtime former Team PokerStars Pro, who will be the ambassador for the new .eu endeavor.

Italy Online Gaming Soars

While many eyes remain on Italy, awaiting its approval of licenses for participation in the new Euro online poker market, the Italian revenue numbers came out for March. And they were impressive.

The growth was significant. Online casinos were up 27% year-on-year to €60.6 million. Online sports betting was up 82.4% to €51.3 million. Online poker tournament fees grew 7.4% to €8 million, while cash games were up 1.5% to €6.3 million. Virtual sports climbed to €22.8 million.

Records were set. And while online poker growth was not up to par with the other verticals, its entry to online poker liquidity will likely change that.

888 Challenges German Court

As reported two weeks ago, 888 Holdings lost a significant case in the Federal Administrative Court of Germany and was ordered to pay back VAT taxes to the tune of $45 million. At the time, 888 was considering leaving the German market altogether.

This past week, however, 888 decided to challenge the court’s decision. The operator filed a constitutional complaint asserting that the court infringed on its constitutional rights and violated European Union law. It seems that 888 will not be parting with the $45 million so quickly.

Slovenia Kills Online Gambling Bill

The long-awaited bill to open the Slovenian online gambling market to international operators hit a massive setback last week.

The National Council Commission for Economy, Crafts, Tourism & Finance rejected the latest proposal despite its approval by the National Assembly. The parliamentary rejection by an 18-12 vote gives the bill back to the Assembly for changes. Bill champion MP Branko Zorman is now tasked with finding middle ground that will push the bill through the Assembly with assurances that the Council will approve it, too.

Now into its third year of debate, Slovenians continue to abide by a system that was devised in 1995 and does not consider new trends, technology, and market needs.

Brazil Gambling Bill May Be Dead

Last month, the Brazilian Senate Committee on Consultation, Justice and Citizenship voted down the long-debated gambling bill. It was a tough blow to the people of Brazil and legislators who have waited and worked to legalize gambling in Brazil for years.

The Ministry of Tourism is widely blamed for the negative votes, as it introduced a competing bill to only legalize land-based casinos. The massive plan that leaves out all internet proposals and is being protested by legislators that want all gambling to be legalized at once. While brick-and-mortar casinos will be positive for the economy, internet websites will bring in more immediate revenue and keep unlicensed operators from reaping financial benefits that could be helping Brazil.

With al of the controversy, the Chamber of Deputies is showing signs of losing momentum for the latest bill. Some legislators, whether out of protest or mere frustration, may be ready to abandon all plans.

Microgaming All-In for Diversity

The All-In Diversity Project has been picking up steam. Just weeks ago, Kindred Group joined as a founding member to help transform the gambling world into a more diverse, equal, and inclusive industry that will reflect its customer base.

The program was founded by two female gambling executives “to establish a global industry standard index designed to be the definitive benchmarking tool for measuring diversity and inclusion in the sector.” Partners thus far include Caesars Entertainment, Paddy Power Betfair, IGT, Oxford Brookes University, and Gaming Innovation Group.

Now, Microgaming is the newest founding member. Company CFO John Coleman noted that diversity helps create a stronger workforce, and Microgaming wants to be an integral part of creating more inclusive work environments throughout the industry.

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