ociedade Figueira Praia, a Portuguese betting and casino company, became the latest to receive a license from SRIJ. It will provide online gambling customers with sports betting options under the Casino Portugal brand.
Portugal introduced its new gambling regulatory framework in April 2015, thus opening the country’s market for licensed operations. It was not before May 2016 when SRIJ began issuing online gaming and betting licenses to interested operators, both domestic and international ones.
So far, the gambling regulator has granted three sports betting licenses, three casino licenses, and a single poker license. In addition, two of the licensees hold two licenses – one for sports betting and the other for casino games, which means that the country’s market has only attracted five unique operators since it was opened last summer.
The regulation of the Portuguese gambling market was a highly anticipated event for the development of the European iGaming industry. The southern European country was among the many EU Member States that were urged by EU authorities to adopt online gambling regulations that responded to contemporary demand for this type of offering.
Despite the pressure, it could be said that Portugal may have failed to create a gambling environment that would attract great interest among major international operators. It is true that the country has created a regulated environment for its players in hopes to draw them away from unlicensed and uncontrolled operations.
On the other hand, Portuguese lawmakers introduced a taxation regime that was rather heavy for operators.
Generally speaking, the country is one of the few within the EU to be taxing online sports betting services on turnover. Under its laws, sports betting operators are annually obliged to pay up to 16% on the stakes made by local players. As for casino games, these are taxed on revenue. But casino operators, online poker ones included, pay up to 30% on their full-year revenue.
Many believe that the taxation regime became one of the main reasons for the general lack of interest in the market.
The Remote Gambling Association, a trade association created by several major gambling operators, was among the most vocal opponents of the Portuguese tax regulations. The organization has called for changes on multiple occasions, but it seems that it will not be before May 2018 that SRIJ and Portuguese lawmakers will undertake a review of the country’s online gambling industry, or at least that is what they have said in response to criticism.