Portugal’s Gambling Market 2020: New Trends in the Development of the Business

Andrew Price
Posted by Andrew Price
2WinPower Partner, owner of the gambling establishments network.

This year, the Portuguese gambling market is considered to be one of the most attractive investment sectors. The industry demonstrates stable growth, and the state apparatus is developing the most loyal conditions for the work of local and foreign operators. More detailed information on the news of the industry and its trends is at 2wpower.com.

Gambling market in Portugal

Entertainment for money has become a key element of the tourist field. We are talking not only about the classic land-based platforms but also about the industry on the Internet. Since 2015, the country has legalised virtual services and opened up completely new horizons for investors. Today, it is a perfect time to order a turnkey casino and start working in the growing Portuguese market with a big customer base.

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How Did the Portuguese Gambling Market Develop: Historical Background

The early sign in the market was the national lottery, the draws of which began to be held back in 1783. And all the income from this service went to charity. The first gambling establishment in Portugal appeared in 1904.

Since 1910, the situation is changing dramatically. At first, casinos are transferred to the ownership of the country, then they are strictly prohibited, and after some time, they get a legal status again (and it was like this several times in a row). In just sixteen years, forty-four state apparatus has changed, and each of them had their own policy regarding the gambling industry.

The last transfer of casinos to private individuals occurred in 1979. Since then, the sector has started to grow stably. The only restriction that always has been constant is the need for operators to work within strictly defined territories.

Today, there are ten reservations for traditional casinos in the country:

  • Azores;
  • Algarve;
  • Vidago-Pedras Salgadas;
  • Povoa de Varzim;
  • Porto Santo;
  • Troia;
  • Figueira da Foz;
  • Madeira;
  • Espinho;
  • Estoril.

However, this restriction may be bypassed. Thus, in three zones, there are no classic gambling houses at all. It is also possible to organise games on the board of a ship or an aircraft, which has the Portuguese registration but is located outside of its borders. Very often, entertainment for money is organised in places of mass gathering of tourists. It is seasonal and is not tied to a specific area. It is also allowed to install slot machines in hotels and other establishments that serve as places of resort for foreign tourists.

The Portuguese Casino Market: Modern Trends

The latest financial report published by the largest gambling regulator mentions a steady growth of the market with the prospect of increasing the public budget by forty million euro already at the beginning of this year.

Last year, the situation was like this:

Forms of the gambling industry Income level Growth record
Land-based casinos 38,5 million euro 23% (+ 9 million euro)
Bookmakers’ services (offline and online) 20 million euro 11,2%
Online gambling 73,2 million euro

The general growth of the industry ― 24%, and the income of the largest sectors of the market-
are divided as follows:

  • video slots ― 61,6%;
  • roulette ― 14%;
  • poker ― 10,6%;
  • blackjack ― 8,5%;
  • poker tournaments ― 5,3%.

In the country, virtual entertainment is a new trend that attracts the maximum attention of users and investors. The popularity of video slots is increasing day by day, and especially in-demand are slots with catchy storylines and branded games, such as:

  • Beach Life (five-reeled slot machine from Playtech with a lot of bonus multipliers, additional games, and a good jackpot);
  • Blade (Playtech's thematic game is dedicated to Marvel comic characters, and it allows gamblers to become fearless vampire hunters);
  • Gladiator (a fascinating story about the life of the brave warriors of antiquity, the winners of fights in the arena of the amazing Colosseum of Rome).

Another trend is associated with an increase in the share of poker in the gambling market. At the end of last year, Portugal confirmed its accession to the euro pool thus joining Spain and France.

The overall liquidity will allow French and Spanish gamblers to access the game pool with more significant prizes, promos, and the best range of games from trusted and licensed operators,” said an authorised representative of SRIJ. “We expect that the combined game pool will expand to gamblers from Italy and Portugal and offer them our complete support.

For a long time, there was a monopoly on the Portuguese poker market, represented only by PokerStars. Last year, the situation changed ― the authorised body issued a license to 888 Holdings, a company from offshore in Gibraltar.

The Largest Land-Based Clubs of Portugal

Today, there are eleven websites in the country that are extremely popular with both local customers and foreign gamblers:

Casino Estoril

It is the largest gambling house in Europe, which has an ultra-modern style: the facades of the building are compositions of glass and metal. Besides a large selection of games for money, the complex has restaurants, concert venues, places where it is possible to dance, and even an art gallery.

Casino Lisboa

It is situated in the Park of Nations (Lisbon) and is considered the heart of the country's gambling industry. It has more than a thousand slot machines and twenty tables for board games, and it receives more than ten thousand visitors daily.

Casino Peninsular-Figueira da Foz

This is the oldest gambling location in Portugal, which has the title of a historical monument of the beginning of the last century.

Casino de Troia

The fact that this location is close to the beaches and hotel complexes is definitely a big advantage.

Casino Da Povoa

The object has earned the fame of the favourite resting place of the aristocracy.

Casino Espinho-Solverde

It is a real Mecca for true gamblers. On the territory of the object, there are two large-scale food villages that can satisfy even the most sophisticated public.

Casino De Chaves

This casino is located almost on the border with Spain, and that is why it always has a good stream of customers. As additional services, there are a spa, a concert venue, and a hotel.

Casino De Vilamoura

The main reason for its popularity is the organisation of poker tournaments and daily show programs with local celebrities.

Casino De Monte Gordo

In addition to a standard set of games for money, the casino offers atmospheric shows and performances arranged by popular showmen.

Hotel Algarve Casino

A gambling house with a hotel complex on the coastline allows visitors to combine a pleasant family holiday on the beach with a bright nightlife.

Casino Da Madeira

It was created on the basis of the sketches of a Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer and is surrounded by an exotic park area. This gambling house is considered to be one of the most famous architectural monuments of our time.

Interesting fact: all operators who provide services in the country are obliged to spend at least 3% of their revenues on the growth of the entertainment sector. Therefore, a visit to any Portuguese casino always means a lot of positive emotions from colourful shows and other interesting programs with the participation of local and foreign celebrities.

Legal Regulation of the Industry

Online and offline gambling in Portugal: legal regulation

The activity of any casino is controlled by three instances at once:

  1. Serviço de Regulação e Inspeção de Jogos do Turismo de Portugal (SRIJ). It controls and inspects gambling objects of any format and deals with market analytics, rehabilitation of addicted users, and the imposition of sanctions to illegal suppliers.
  2. Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa (SCML). This organisation controls the lottery draws and bookmakers services (it interacts only with offline objects).
  3. Comissão de Jogos. It is responsible for issuing permits, monitoring contracts of market participants, and resolving administrative issues. Another duty is to check the technical compliance of the devices installed in the land-based locations.

There is another controlling body ― Inspeccao-Geral de Jogos. It was established on the basis of the Ministry of Trade and Tourism of Portugal. All regulations and analytical reports of the body are presented in the form of external consultations and are advisory.

The established norms control all aspects of the casino business from the classification of the allowed games to the access system and the operating time of the locations (no more than twelve hours per day).

The Portuguese rules allow several kinds of entertainment for money:

  • banking games;
  • products with a separate/doubled bank;
  • non-banking solutions;
  • slot machines with instant winnings;
  • hardware devices.

At the same time, the government controls not only the classification of services but also the rules of the game. For example, the function of doubling the bet in blackjack can be used only when a gambler has collected a combination of above nine (the norm is written in article fifty-eight, paragraph four).

Casinos work on the basis of the following rules:

  • no minors are allowed to enter the club;
  • people in a uniform also cannot become visitors of any casino;
  • insolvent debtors and people who were found guilty of deliberate bankruptcy are not served;
  • participation in games is prohibited for the personnel of a gambling facility;
  • government officials (judges, department officers) and law enforcement officers should never gamble (but they still can visit the territory of a casino).

To visit a casino, clients must register, undergo a personal identification procedure, and pay the entrance fee that may not be paid only by managers of the club, their guests, and high government officials.

Without exception, all clients of casinos cannot get credit limits.

How to Purchase a Portuguese License?

For being able to do it, you should participate in a public tender process. The results of the competition directly affect the final cost of the service. In this case, one participant may become the owner of several permits at once, the validity of which extends to a certain territory.

Basic requirements for applicants are:

  • presence of an office in the EU or its economic zone;
  • positive interaction with the administrative machine on the issues of taxation and actions that will help to prevent fraud;
  • availability of an agreement with a local representative (for foreign investors);
  • one thousand euro minimum as a reserve deposit.

For traditional objects, a permit is valid for ten years and for bingo halls ― for twenty.

Portuguese Online Casinos

The statute on the legalisation of the virtual sector was adopted in 2015 but the first website obtained a license only in the summer of 2016. The state apparatus made a number of positive decisions aimed at the organisation and development of the industry. For example, in a virtual format, not only standard slot machines are available but also betting services. There is also a variable tax rate (more information on this later will be given later in this article).

A permit is issued for three years. The service involves the following costs:

Gambling license expenses in Portugal

Taxes for Gambling

As we have already mentioned above, this year, in the Portuguese market, there is a variable tax rate for operators who work on the Internet. If the total income of the platform is less than five million euro, the owner of the service should deduct about 15% annually. For large resources with the income above five million euro, there will be a tax of up to 30%.

For owners of land-based casinos, taxes are calculated individually. The size of commission fees can reach 4.5-40% of the gross income.

The situation with bookmaker’s services is as follows: those who offer fixed bets on sports events and horse racing are obliged to pay a tax of 8-15%.

Owners of bingo halls should pay 25% of the total income. Tax levies are charged only for the function of printing card denominations.


Analysts highly estimate the potential of the gambling industry of this country. Since it is at the stage of formation, this field can make both local and foreign investors interested. Another advantage of the market is a stable political environment and a well-thought-out control system. Gambling has become a key element of the country's tourist infrastructure and an additional source of inflows into its treasury.

Moreover, Portugal is considered to be a very promising investment sector. For more detailed information on the current state of affairs and assistance in launching your own gambling project, you can always contact specialists from 2WinPower.

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