PokerStars Awarded License to Operate in Portugal

After withdrawing from the Portuguese online poker market July for fear of violating the law without a license to operate, PokerStars finally received the go ahead to become the countries first licensed and regulated online poker site.

It's taken a long time coming given that it is now 2.5 years since Portugal approved new online gambling laws, and it's been nearly two years since it was announced that in order to operate within the country, a site would need to be issued a license by the SRIJ (Serviço de Regulação e Inspeção de Jogos).

In a recent press release by PokerStars, Amaya's, VP of Corporate Comms Eric Hollreiser sais:

“We are very happy to offer the world’s leading online poker brand to Portuguese players under a local regulatory framework that ensures rigorous consumer protection and gaming integrity. This approval demonstrates our commitment to the responsible growth of online gaming by supporting local regulation that protects players, creates a viable marketplace and provides revenue for local governments.”

PokerStars will be able to offer Hold'em and Omaha cash games and tournaments, as well as French roulette and blackjack.

While this is good news for PokerStars, the conditions under which regulated online poker will operate in Portugal is seen as something of a backwards step but most commentators after it was announced this time last year  by theSRIJ Director and Head of Online Gambling Manuela Bandeira that online poker in Portugal would be a ring-fenced operation. This meant that the worldwide player pool which online players in Portugal had been used to in an unregulated market would be dramatically reduced. It seemed a strange move to make considering the devastating impact ring-fencing the player pool has had in France, Spain, and Italy.

Furthermore, highly restrictive taxes lie in wait for potential operators (15 percent for operators with less than €5 million in gross gaming revenue, up to 30 percent for operators with more than €10 million), making it an even less attractive proposition for sites to seek official licenses.

Nevertheless, with PokerStars seeking to ever-widen their reach, every new territorial license is a victory, and if anyone can withstand the liquidity and tax problems, it's the worlds richest operator.


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