They keep talking about Regulation of Online poker but no one has done anything yet. In recent years, many governments around the world have decided to legalize online gambling in different ways. This complex discussion involves not only taxes and licenses, but also the moral impact of gambling in society. It's no secret that such regulations take years to pass.
In this article, we'll briefly summarize how online poker has been regulated around the world. Highlighting small differences that profoundly impact players.
Regulation of Online Poker
The first group involves countries that have decided to debate and legalize gambling. As a side note, usually all games, including poker, lotteries, casinos, etc. are regulated by one bill.
Typically, a project is debated in the House or Senate. Then it is decided what type of regulation will apply. Years can pass before a final decision is made.
For example, poker online in Spain has been regulated since 2012, and players can only play through legitimate sites like 888Poker that have been approved by the DOGJ (Spanish gambling regulator).
Other European countries like Italy, Portugal, or France, have adopted the same Spanish model. Some of them signed a shared liquidity agreement in 2017. This allows players to compete with each other in an enhanced closed market.
A closed liquidity market is usually the worst possible model for operators and players. Players will find less action around the clock, and promotions are not very valuable. On the other hand, while the government collects taxes, there is a missed opportunity for players who prefer to play in more prominent player pools.
Another model is to allow local players to join games with ROW (rest of the world) gamblers.
Usually, countries with this type of regulation ask operators to apply for a local license but do not have geographical restrictions. The largest poker rooms in the world operate on this market, known as dot-com.
For players and operators, this is the best model. Reason a bigger player pool allows hosting more massive promotions and events.
There are two types of countries that have no particular rules for online poker:
Countries where the government does not allow or prohibit playing online poker. Therefore, a legal vacuum is created, and players join dot-com sites without any problem. The vast majority of countries around the world fall into this category.
For players, this model is very similar to one of shared liquidity (because they can play against ROW players). For the government, it represents a missed opportunity to charge taxes.
Illegal Online Poker Markets
On the other hand, countries like China have a strict gambling regulation. They don't allow Regulation of Online poker across the Internet. This has resulted in a complex scenario where players always find a way to play despite local regulations. Furthermore the government stops collecting all possible taxes and other incomes.
Illegal gambling is generally more culturally related rather than tax or other regulatory issues. Luckily for players, not many countries around the world opt for this model. More and more countries will jump into the regulatory hype in the short term, and players will have to adapt to the new reality.