Italy is expected to launch the call for bids from online gambling operators by the end of this week, Italian gambling news outlet AgiproNews reported on Monday. The call will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union. According to unnamed sources, this may happen on Wednesday, or no later than Friday.
The launch of the bidding process for Italian online gambling licenses was expected to take place in mid-September 2017. However, obstacles of different and uncertain nature have delayed the launch.
Here it is important to note that the Southern European country is set to open an application process for 120 online gambling licenses. However, it is believed that around 40 of those will be issued to operators that have already entered the Italian iGaming market and now only require renewal of their licenses.
Each of the applying operators will have to pay an application fee of €200,000 in order to be able to participate in the bidding process. It will thus bring additional revenue of €24 million to the nation’s coffers.
More details about the bidding process’ timeframe will probably be released in the coming days. With that said, it is still unknown when exactly interested operators will be able to enter Italy’s online gambling market.
What Does This Mean for the Shared Online Poker Liquidity Project?
Italy was one of the four countries that signed the shared online poker liquidity agreement in Rome last summer. However, the unexpected delays in the country’s online gaming licensing process affected its participation in the official start of the project.
The French online gambling regulator, ARJEL, announced last week that the first shared online poker tables are expected to go live in the coming weeks. However, it also became known that these tables will be comprised of French and Spanish players upon launch.
While it can be speculated that the delayed launch of Italy’s call for online gaming license applications was one of the main reasons why the country will not join the official start of the project, it cannot be said why Portuguese players will have to wait before being able to play against peers from Spain and France, once the shared online poker tables are rolled out. Yet, it is important to note that even though at a later date, Italy and Portugal are still expected to join the project.
More signals that operators have begun preparing for shared liquidity’s realization came last week when online gambling operator 888 announced that it has launched poker operations in Italy. It was also announced back in December that PokerStars was given the nod by ARJEL, the French regulator, to participate in the shared liquidity project. This leads us to believe that the online poker operator could be the first to launch shared poker tables as part of the project.