The gambling business in Portugal is legalized – both offline and online. The annual gross revenue from the country’s casinos is more than 288 million EUR. There are 11 casinos here. Unlike neighboring Spain, slot machines generate the most income. The share of slots in the industry’s revenue is 81%.
There are so-called gambling zones in Portugal. Only they can house operating casinos. The types of games are regulated by separate legislative acts passed in the 1990s and 2000s. Three organizations deal with gambling business: Serviço de Regulação e Inspeção de Jogos do Turismo de Portugal (SRIJ), Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa (SCML), The Gambling Commission (Comissão de Jogos).
Each organization performs its own functions in the supervision and control of the gambling business.
Portuguese gambling legislation
According to the legislation, gambling business in Portugal can only be carried out by the state. However, it can transfer this right to private operators in the form of a concession.
The law defines 10 playing zones in Portugal:
- Figueira da Foz;
- Porto Santo;
- Póvoa de Varzim;
- Vidago-Pedras Salgadas.
Only eight of them contain casinos with active concessions. Bingo halls can only be located on the territory of the casino. Most of the revenue comes from establishments in the Estoril territory – 49.5%. Other large gambling zones are Póvoa de Varzim and Espinho. They each account for 15% of revenue from games.
Persons under the age of 18 are not allowed to play or enter the casino. In addition, government officials are prohibited from playing: politicians, judges, police officers, etc. There are also limits on the amount you can spend on bets.
Each type of gambling is regulated by a separate regulation:
- national lottery – Decree-Law No. 200/2009;
- scratch cards – Decree-Law No. 314/94;
- pools for football matches (Totogolo) – Decree-Law No. 225/98;
- bingo – Decree-Law No. 31/2011 and Ordinance No. 128/2011;
- slot machines and machines – Decree-Law No. 310/2002;
- fixed sports bets – Decree-Law No. 67/2015.
Casino games are governed by four acts that govern the running of the casino, staffing and other important things:
- Gambling Law of December 2, 1989, as amended by Decree-Law No. 114/2011 (basic law);
- Ordinance No. 1159/90 (work with personnel);
- Ordinance No. 217/2007 (game rules);
- Law No. 8/2006 (how to hire a dealer).
Online gaming is regulated by Decree-Law No. 66/2015. This category includes all gambling that is provided remotely through various media.
The gambling regulators in Portugal are three organizations:
- Serviço de Regulação e Inspeção de Jogos do Turismo de Portugal (SRIJ);
- Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa (SCML);
- The Gambling Commission (Comissão de Jogos).
Serviço de Regulação e Inspeção de Jogos (SRIJ) oversees, inspects and regulates land-based platforms and online gambling. It also defines responsible gambling, helps addicted gamblers and conducts various market research. The service provides technical support to the police if it is required to warn or apply sanctions to illegal operators.
Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa (SCML) is responsible for overseeing and inspecting national lotteries, horse racing and fixed bets played in land-based establishments.
The Comissão de Jogos coordinates and oversees the Serviço de Regulação e Inspeção de Jogos. This organization issues licenses and regulations, monitors contracts with operators, and solves administrative problems. She is also responsible for checking technical equipment for gambling grounds.
Conditions for obtaining a license in a gambling jurisdiction
To obtain a license in Portugal, the operator must participate in a public tender. The public tender is announced by the state and takes place within a limited time frame. An operator can obtain several licenses, but each one covers a separate territory.
The operator must have a registered office in a member state of the European Union or in an EU economic area. He should also cooperate with the administration on tax matters, discouraging fraud and money laundering. Foreign companies are required to have a representative in Portugal.
The license for land-based concessions is valid for 10 years for casinos and 20 years for bingo halls. The permit may be renewed by government decision if the operator requests it.
The cost of a license is individual in each case and is decided by a public tender. Operators usually pay the so-called indemnity to the authorities. Its value is based on the amount of gross sales. Additionally, companies can invest in any events, actions or buildings in the municipality where the playgrounds are located.
Licensed varieties of gambling
The following games are licensed in gambling zones:
- American and French roulette;
- card games: baccarat, 21, punto banco, macau, shemin de fer, poker of five varieties;
- slot machines.
Other games are regulated by the Tourism Secretary of State. The rules for them are set by the Comissão de Jogos.
Most of the revenue comes from slot machines. Their share is 81% of the total gross revenue of all casinos. It is followed by roulette (6.4%), French craps (3.3%), baccarat / punto banco (3.3%).
Online gambling in Portugal
In Portugal, there are four types of licenses for online operators:
- fixed sports bets;
- Horse Racing;
- casino games (baccarat, craps, blackjack, slot machines, poker, etc.).
The rules for applying for a license are the same as for ground operators. The permit is valid for three years and can be renewed. License fees for online operators are distributed as follows:
- initial payment – 18,000 EUR plus another 2,000 EUR for each type of bets and casino games;
- fee for issuing a new license – 2,000 EUR for each type of gambling;
- the fee for playing games not included in the original license is 2,000 EUR for each type.
Renewal or expansion of the license is also paid. The fee depends on the type of game. The fee for fixed sports bets and horse racing is EUR 12,000. For bingo – 2,000 EUR. For casino games – 12,000 EUR plus 2,000 EUR for each new type of gambling.
Also, operators must pay guarantees upon obtaining a license. The guarantee for obligations for the online operator is 100,000 EUR.
Gambling taxes in Portugal
Land-based casinos pay a special gambling tax, which depends on the location of the playground. It is charged on gross sales and ranges from 4.5% to 40%. Bingo lounges pay a card printing tax of 25%.
Online operators of casino games and horse racing bets pay 15-30% of the amount of bets placed by players. Operators of fixed sports bets and fixed bets on horse racing – 8-15%.
Popular slot machines in the country
Slot machines are the most popular gambling game in Portugal. Among the users’ favorite slots:
- Beach Life;
- Thunderstruck II;
- Dragon’s Myth.
Beach Life is a five-reel slot machine from Playtech. It offers 20 pay lines, jackpot, multiplier bonus game.
Thunderstruck II is a slot machine from Microgaming. Contains 5 reels and offers 243 ways to win. Four levels of free spins with different features. The bonus game turns the reels completely wild.
Blade is a 5 reel slot from Playtech. There is a chance to get free spins with a win multiplier of up to x5 and additional wild symbols. The bonus game complements the winning combinations with additional symbols. A progressive jackpot is also available.
Gladiator is a 5-reel, 25-payline video slot from Playtech. A bonus game with a jackpot and a bonus game with the ability to choose a prize is offered: free spins, multipliers, additional symbols.
Dragon’s Myth is a 5 reel slot from Rabcat. The user is invited to collect four dragons to trigger the bonus, as well as get free spins and a bonus game with counting combinations in both directions.
No Portuguese developers of slot machines and casino software are known. But the gambling market itself is developing successfully, bringing substantial profits to the state treasury. The model with play areas seems to have justified its existence.