Shared Liquidity Between France and Spain
Although in some European countries operators have seen initial success in ring fencing their poker product, on the whole it hasn't been too successful. It's been done on a nation by nation basis, much as in the states on a state by state basis, with the problem being liquidity, or more precisely the lack of it. Ring fencing provides an individual set of rules in each territory and also satisfies governments security requests in that all players funds are ring fenced and therefore secure. The problem is that there is simply not enough players to make it viable and with many countries fairly small populations, as with some states then it's not a problem that is easily solved if ring fencing rules stay as they are. Therefore, this week, Spain which requires ring fencing in place and has very strict rules when it come to playing online poker, has said that it is considering speaking with other European nations on whether they may consider sharing pools of players. A statement from the Spanish regulators said “Coordination of the biannual meetings with regulators from France, Italy, Portugal and Germany to bring positions and formulas to analyze international liquidity.” Italy in particular has seen a sharp decline in poker players recently and it appears that France already want to be part of things. There is no doubt that a move such as this would strengthen online poker in Europe and could be the model for the future of online poker in the states.
The Picture in the US
The situation is very similar in the States, should more states follow the lead of Nevada and Delaware by legalizing online poker. It's all very well passing laws to allow intrastate poker but where will the liquidity come from? For online poker to work in this format there has to be a lot of poker players from each state at the tables, otherwise the cash action would be very limited and tournaments would be offering up very small prize pools. Let's take Nevada as an example and compare it with Spain. Spain has a population of a little over 47 million people and is considering sharing it's player pool with other nations, due to the fact that the regulators believe that in its current form it is not sustainable. Nevada has a population of under 3 million....should I go on? To some extent the New Jersey bill has addressed this by stating that it is imperative that agreements between states to share pools, are the key to online pokers success in the US.