Betclic Everest first to launch online in Portugal’s regulated betting market

portugal-betclic-everest-online-sports-bettingFrench operator Betclic Everest Group has been awarded the first online sports betting license under Portugal’s new regulated online gambling market.

On Wednesday, Betclic launched its site after finally receiving the go-ahead from local regulator Serviço Regulação e Inspeção de Jogos do Turismo de Portugal (SRIJ).

The launch comes more than one year since the country approved its new online gambling framework, underscoring the frustrations experienced by both local bettors as well as operators – many of whom exited the market in good faith and in anticipation of a speedy return – in seeing the new rules take effect.

On the plus side, Betclic’s launch beat the most recent estimates, which suggested the first regulated sites wouldn’t launch until June. Betclic can now rest easy knowing it will have a few weeks in which to work out any kinks in its new site before the Euro 2016 football frenzy kicks off on June 10.

Betclic Everest CEO Isabelle Andres told eGR Magazine that the company hoped it will soon receive a Portuguese online casino license to burnish its sports offering. Andres claimed her company was approaching the market with “determination and ambition.”

It may take more than that to turn a profit under Portugal’s punitive online tax regime, which requires operators to fork over 8% of their first €30m in sports betting turnover, while any wagers above that figure will be taxed on a elevating scale, maxing out at a whopping 16% of turnover.

Portugal’s new regime brought an end to the monopoly held by lottery operator Santa Casa da Misericordia de Lisboa (SCML), which announced Wednesday that it would apply for an online sports betting license, reversing the public position the company staked out last year.

According to SCML boss Pedro Santana Lopes, his company is “entitled” to an online license based on its proven commitment to responsible gambling. SCML is attempting to broaden its digital horizons, having just announced a new app that allows customers to buy lottery tickets and check results using their smartphones.

It likely irks SCML that Betclic was the one to pop Portugal’s online cherry, as the two companies waged a protracted legal war earlier in the decade over Betclic’s right to advertise in the Portuguese market. SCML won that fight but it seems Betclic has had the last laugh.