How Do Online Casino Regulations Look Like In Portugal?

 (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
 
While somewhat new, online gambling in Portugal is fully regulated, implying online casinos, sportsbooks and gambling platforms are legal. In 2015, the European country passed laws that would enable interested operators to apply for a valid gambling license from the Portuguese Gambling Regulatory Authority (SRIJ). The country also made it possible for foreign investors to provide gambling products to its market. As such, there are all sorts of legal online gambling in Portugal. However, the country has one of the highest gambling tax rates at 44%. Here’s a quick look at how online casino regulations look like in Portugal. 

Online gambling and betting legal regime (OLR)

According to the 2015 gambling regulations, operators are required to acquire a license in four main fiends. This includes bingo, horse race betting, fixed odds sports betting and games of luck (games of chance), which includes poker, slots, blackjack, roulette and other casino games. The SRIJ oversees the regulation and licensing of online gambling platforms and imposes strict rules to prevent illegitimate offers from accessing the Portuguese market. All gambling regulations are defined in the Decree-Law 66/2015, which ushered the online gambling and betting legal regime (OLR). Six amendments have been made to the 2015 legislation, the last coming on March 31, 2020. Here are the fundamental principles of online gambling regulations: 
  • Protection of minors and vulnerable people from excessive, unregulated gambling, including addictive and irresponsible gambling behavior.
  • Preventing and fighting fraud and money laundering facilitated through gambling platforms to ensure security and public order.
  • Identifying, preventing and fighting criminal behavior in online gambling.
  • Ensuring the integrity of sports activities by preventing match-fixing, bet rigging and sports event result manipulation.

The Decree Law required interested operators to meet all OLR requirements before applying for a license to operate an online betting platform. These are sites that satisfy the legal requirements of trustworthiness. The Gambling Regulation and Inspection Service is tasked with reviewing, inspecting and regulating online betting platforms. Licenses are granted for three years and can be requested at any time.

What casino games are legal?

The approved regulations that legalized casino online in Portugal allows operators to provide various casino games, including all games of chance, fixed-odds sports betting and horse racing betting (both pari-mutuel and fixed-odds). The country has also been partnering with game operators in other regions, opening the market for all kinds of casino products. Here’s an overview of the legal forms of casino games available for players in Portugal:
  • Games of chance – Also known as games of luck, games of chance refer to a broad category of popular casino games, including video slots and table games like blackjack, roulette and baccarat. Other games of chance include poker, craps, scratchcards, keno, Slingo, arcade and instant win video games.
  • Live dealer casino games - As the name suggests, these games include a real human dealer. The live dealer shuffles cards, spins roulette wheels and does other normal functions of a table game dealer. The event is broadcasted from a studio and players tune in via webcams
  • Bingo & Lottery - These are some of the oldest games of chance available for players in Portugal and involve crossing off numbers on a ticket and waiting for winning numbers to be read. In Portugal, bingo and lottery are classified under games of chance.
  • Fixed-odd sports betting – Includes most professional sports betting, including soccer, volleyball, basketball, tennis, hockey and other tournaments. However, betting on school games isn't allowed as part of the measures to prevent match-fixing.
  • Horse racing betting – One of the first forms of betting to be legalized in most gambling regions, including Portugal. Players can bet on horse races both online and in OTB locations. Both pari-mutuel and fixed-odd betting are legal.

The Decree Law opens Portugal to a fully-fledged gambling scene with most forms of online gambling permitted. Players are also allowed to join offshore betting sites and casinos, so the market sees incredible diversity.

Gambling taxation laws in Portugal 

Portugal has flourishing online gambling and the potential revenue from the tax collected was the main reason behind the current legal gambling scene. The Ministry of Council was concerned about generating enough revenue from the gambling activity, which led to the high tax rate imposed on online betting operators. In 2020, SRIJ published reports indicating a new record revenue of over €69 million in only three months. While pundits expect the government to set new limits, tax rates remain high even as operators continue to plea for some kind of tax relief. The government intended to increase the flat tax rate from 15% to 25% in 2020 and the betting exchange revenue to 35%.

Gambling regulations for players

Casino operators are expected to acquire a valid gambling license from SRIJ and comply with all OLR regulations and amendments made to the 2015 Decree Law. Players are also required to join legitimate platforms that hold a license from the authorization bodies. Additionally, players must meet the legal age and desist from illegal practices, such as money laundering. The minimum age is 18 years for all forms of online gambling and betting. Income from gambling is also taxed and all players are expected to report the income they received from online casinos. 

Summary

Online casinos and online gambling are both legal in Portugal. The gambling laws were passed back in 2015 and have since been modified to accommodate a fast-expanding market. Portugal set record-high revenue from gambling tax and more regulations are expected, considering the industry is still new. Although the laws came half a decade ago, licensing of online platforms only began recently.  Nonetheless, the scene is already bustling with activity and continues to grow thanks to less stringent laws.