Portugal has issued its seventh online gambling license as operators continue to believe they can make money online despite the government’s tax-heavy regime.
On Monday, the Serviço Regulação e Inspeção de Jogos do Turismo de Portugal (SRIJ) regulatory body announced it had issued online gambling License 007 to Sociedade Figueira Praia, who will offer online sports betting under the Casino Portugal brand at Casinoportugal.pt.
The new license brings Portugal’s total number of online sports betting sites to three – joining Betclic Everest Group and Bet Entertainment Technologies (BET) – since the country launched its regulated online gambling market in May 2016.
The SRIJ has also issued three casino licenses and one poker license, although two of those casino licenses were granted to Betclic and BET, so the addition of Sociedade Figueira Praia brings the number of unique companies operating in Portugal’s regulated online market to just five.
Sports betting accounted for 70% of all revenue reported in the SRIJ’s first ever online market report issued earlier this month. Betclic and BET’s sportsbooks claimed €57.6m of the total €82.2m the regulated online market generated in its first 10 months of existence, but sports betting revenue has fallen from €22.2m in Q3 2016 to just €17.4m in Q1 2017, which could be due to a paucity of marquee sports events but could also be due to punters getting wise to the costs associated with locally regulated sportsbooks.
Portugal’s regulated online market was widely criticized before its launch due to the country’s insistence on sticking with a tax regime that many operators deemed unworkable. Sports betting is subject to a variable tax on betting turnover, with operators paying an 8% rate on their first €30m in betting handle, while wagers exceeding that total are subject to rising rates that top out at 16%.
The SRIJ’s own numbers indicate that the government claimed nearly half (€40.1m) of the total €82.2m that the online market generated in its first 10 months of existence. Portugal’s government has promised to review its online market starting in May 2018, two years after its market launch, while organizations like the Remote Gambling Association have urged the government to take action now to ensure the market doesn’t die of operator neglect.