Online Poker Landmark: Shared Liquidity

July sixth, 2017 is certainly a landmark for the online poker community and for the rest of the online gaming industry.

For the first time in the European Union legal gambling has overcome territorial borders as gaming authorities from four different countries have signed an Agreement that makes shared liquidity for online poker possible: France, Italy, Portugal and Spain. The Agreement sets the guidelines for the collaboration and coordination between these authorities, especially in relation to the exchange of information. However, the text does not specify any technical or fiscal issues, it leaves it up to the signatory countries to develop the process, hence there are a lot of issues yet to be settled. In principle, any other country is free to adhere to the Agreement but for the time being only the above-mentioned countries will profit from the shared liquidity. The Agreement entered into force upon its signing however, it all depends on the Authorities’ and operators’ diligence to begin the shared liquidity operation.

Please find a summary of the Agreement bellow:

Object of the Agreement: Establish the conditions of application and control of online poker offers subject to shared liquidity and organize the procedure of cooperation and exchange of information.

Conditions of application and control of online poker offers shared liquidity: Each Authority may develop the system subject to the issue of a prior authorization or other procedure; Information exchange and cooperation shall be carried out in accordance with European legislation on the protection of personal data, the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing, and in accordance with national law; Shared liquidity only applies to legal operators.

Scope of information exchanges and cooperation among gaming authorities: Player protection, prevention of fraud and criminal activities and prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing. Specifically, on prevention of fraud and criminal activities: (A). The Authorities will strengthen cooperation on measures against players’ collusion. (B). They will ensure effectiveness through controls and the exchange of results. (C) When they are informed of acts attributable to players participating in an international table which may constitute fraud or criminal activity, they shall take measures to carry out the investigations and inform the competent Authorities.

Content of information exchanges and cooperation: The information exchanged by the Authorities shall include relevant data related to the development of the game at international tables and with the players participating in them.  The requested Authority shall provide the applicant with access to the information and shall use the means and powers necessary to transmit that information without charging any additional costs to the players or authorized operators.

Grounds for refusal: The Authorities may reject the submission of the information requested in certain specified cases: (1). When it may violate the sovereignty or public order of the State; (2). When it may affect the development of proceedings initiated against a regulated operator of online poker game;(3). When he does not have and cannot obtain the requested information;(4). Where it is unable to communicate the information required in accordance with its internal national legislation.

Procedures for the exchange of information and cooperation; Exchanges at the request of the requesting Authority:

  • The request shall be sent to the requested Authority by written notification.
  • Each authority shall designate the persons empowered to comply with this procedure and shall inform the other authorities of any change.
  • The applicant will specify the information requested and specify its use.
  • The requested Authority shall transmit the information to the applicant.
  • The information cannot be used for a purpose other than that agreed upon.
  • The requesting Authorities may request that they be allowed to use the information for another purpose.

The Authorities may communicate on their own initiative any relevant information on shared liquidity in online poker.

Specific case of exchange of personal data: (1) They must conform to EU and national legislation. (2) The requesting Authority shall justify that the communication does not exceed the object and scope of this Agreement and that it conforms to the principles of specific purpose of the cooperation procedure. (3) They may be made on their own initiative when they are aimed at the protection of players, the prevention of fraud and criminal activities and the prevention of money laundering and the financing of terrorism. (4) The requested Authority may expressly agree that information that includes personal data is used for another purpose, upon request of the applicant.

Relevant interchangeable data between the Authorities: Records in poker tournament; Records in poker cash; Participation rights, repurchases, add-on and re-entry in poker tournament; Basement and boat in cash poker; Prizes in poker tournament; and refunds when leaving an international table in poker cash; the identification of the authorized operator with which the operation was carried out; the date and time of the player’s operation; The ID of the player who has performed the operation at the international table; and the player’s pseudonym; The opening of verified player accounts; Requests for closure of verified player accounts; financial movements of verified player accounts etc.

Confidentiality: The Agreement establishes standard confidentiality measures.

Evolution of national legislation: The Authorities will inform each other of the changes in their respective national regulations regarding online poker.

Text of the agreement.

Patricia Lalanda Ordóñez

Loyra Abogados

Madrid 10 de julio, 2017