Gambling, casinos, slot halls and online casinos in Portugal
Portugal is a significant tourist destination. The country legally allows gambling on its territory, that comes as a considerable source of income. The gambling regulation in Portugal is set under the Tourism Service of Portugal (Turismo de Portugal).
Lotteries were authorized in Portugal in the 18th century. Other games were prohibited in the country until the beginning of the 20th century. Games of chance were first regulated in 1927. The existing gambling legislation for land-based games of chance dates back to 1989. Online gambling was legalized in 2015.
The regulated gambling market in Portugal is characterized by great competitiveness and offers diverse gambling services which are available in accordance with the latest gambling legislation. Gambling is divided into four categories (fixed-odds sports betting, pari-mutuel and fixed-odds horseracing, bingo, and games of chance, including poker).
Laws and Regulators
Decree-Law No. 422/89, as amended, provides the legal framework for the operation of games of chance in casinos. The legal regime for online gambling (Regime Jurídico dos Jogos e Apostas Online) is provided by Decree-Law No. 66/2015, as amended. There are also a number of regulations, instructions, and guidance applicable to land-based and online gambling which can be accessed via the regulator’s website.
The Gambling Regulation and Inspection Service (Serviços de Regulação e Inspeção de Jogos), which operates under the Tourism Service of Portugal, controls, inspects, and regulates the operation of land-based games of chance and online gambling (https://www.srij.turismodeportugal.pt/pt/). The activity of the Gambling Regulation and Inspection Service is overseen and coordinated by the Gambling Commission. The Gambling Commission issues gambling licenses and regulations, approves the rules of land-based and online games and betting. The Gambling Regulation and Inspection Service issues instructions and guidance, provide technical support, and manages fees and taxes on operating land-based games and online gambling.
Land Based Casinos
Games of chance can only be organized in casinos located in the gaming areas defined by law. Ten gaming zones were created in Portugal (Azores, Algarve, Espinho, Estoril, Figueira da Foz, Funchal, Porto Santo, Povoa de Varzim, Troia, and Vidago-Pedras Salgadas). Currently, there are 12 casinos operating nationwide, which are located in 9 gaming zones.
Portuguese casinos are typically located in tourist areas where the casino is a part of a larger entertainment complex offering a first-class casino, international shows, live music, fine cuisine dining opportunities, and other entertainment. The scope of authorized casino games is limited by Portugal’s gambling legislation. Casinos offer traditional casinos games, including poker and roulette, as well as various slot machines and VLTs. Bingo is installed in the casino of Espinho.
Most Portuguese casinos are open from 3pm to 3am on weekdays and from 4pm to 4am on weekend. They may be closed on Christmas Eve. The minimum gambling age is 18. A photo ID is required to enter a casino.
According to the official data, Portugal’s land-based casino sector recorded a growth in 2018, despite increasing competition from online gambling and lottery products. The land-based casinos generated overall revenue of EUR 318 million in 2018.
Online gambling regulation was exercised for the first time in Portugal in 2015. The online regulation was introduced to protect minors, prevent gambling addiction, money laundering and criminal behavior, as well as combat manipulating sports scores.
The online regulation allows licenses in four fields – horserace betting, fixed-odds sports betting, bingo, and games of chance (poker, roulette, slots, and other casino games). Bets may only relate the sporting and horseracing competitions and events organized in Portugal or abroad that are on the official list approved by the Gambling Commission. Currently, 20 online operating licenses (9 sports betting licenses and 11 games of chance licenses) are granted to 12 gambling operators.
The Portuguese gambling legislation does not provide for the possibility of B2B operators being granted a license to operate an online gambling platform in Portugal. B2C operators subcontract online providers of gambling services, but the online license itself is granted to the B2C operator.
Online sports betting remains the key source of revenue. During Q3 2019, online gambling generated about EUR 54 million in gross revenue, while gross revenue from sports betting was EUR 25.9 million. The total online gambling tax totaled EUR 23.6 million