The World Poker Tour (WPT) has extended its online MTT options to France and Spain by creating two localized online WPTDeepStacks events.
Executives recently announced a $30 million virtual festival. A first for the organization, the WPT Online Series was a reaction to the new coronavirus pandemic which has forced casinos around the world to close their doors.
With players in the UK and much of Europe catered to, the WPT has now addressed players in Spain and France. Both countries operate ring-fenced networks, only sharing players with each other, Portugal and Italy.
To ensure no one misses out during the coronavirus lockdown, the WPTDeepStacks festival will take place on Partypoker’s dot.fr and dot.es sites. The online series will be a first for Partypoker’s national platforms and will run from April 5 to April 20.
National Markets Not Forgotten During Coronavirus Lockdown
The series will run as one across both networks, but with some twists at the end. Players in Spain will have access to 44 MTTs and a total guarantee of €2.5 million/$2.7 million.
Players in France can play the same 44 MTTs, plus an additional three high rollers. The extra events means French players will compete for a total guarantee of €2.8 million/$3 million. Additionally, the French series will feature buy-ins ranging from $2.15 to $2,160. The maximum fee for a Spanish WPTDeepStacks online events will be $270.
Offering different playing conditions for players in France and Spain is hardly surprising, as France supports a bigger, more active online poker market than does Spain. However, it can still be considered a break from the norm as sharing players has benefited all concerned in recent years.
The two countries, along with Italy and Portugal, have had a liquidity sharing pact since 2018. Although delays have prevented Italian poker sites from being added to the mix, business between the remaining members of the quartet has improved since cross-border activity became possible.
While Partypoker is one of the operators licensed to offer games in both France and Spain, the forthcoming Online WPTDeepStacks will have slightly different options for players in both nations.
Given that countries are implementing their own coronavirus containment measures, this could be a wise choice. With uncertainty being the order of the day, expected norms can no longer be relied on.
WPT Addressing Local Operating Conditions
What may be legally or logistically possible in one country, may not be in another. That’s certainly the case in France and Spain right now. France has been in a state of lockdown since March 17, with only essential travel permitted.
As of March 25, French residents have been ordered to carry permission forms. Anyone caught leaving their home without a form and, therefore a valid reason, can be fined.
In Spain, the coronavirus death toll spiked to over 900 this week, prompting the government to take action. Lockdown rules have been tightened, but so too have other laws.
Most notably, online gambling operators won’t be able to advertise their products during certain hours. The advertising restrictions were due to start later this year, following political discussions in 2019.
With the government fearful people on lockdown may be at greater risk of developing gambling addictions, the bill was fast-tracked. Now part of Spain’s “social shield” containment plan, the rules restrict advertising hours to between 1 am and 5 am.
The restrictions apply to all media platforms, including an operator’s own social networks. These new rules could hamper the online series in Spain. Therefore, offering a slightly reduced schedule is wise. What’s more, it’s an example of how operators are being forced to think outside of the box during a time of uncertainty.