Portugal’s online gambling operators got a much-needed boost from the 2018 FIFA World Cup during the second quarter of 2018.
New figures from the Serviço Regulação e Inspeção de Jogos do Turismo de Portugal (SRIJ) regulatory body showed online sports betting revenue hitting €20.5m in the three months ending June 30, a significant bump over the €13.9m recorded in the same period last year and the €17.4m in Q1 2018.
Portugal’s eight licensed online operators – who collectively hold 13 online licenses – reported over 103k new customer registrations in Q2, 40k higher than signed up in Q2 2017. Of these new customers, nearly half signed up in June, in time for the first half of the World Cup tourney.
Total sports betting handle hit €89.8m in Q2, a year-on-year increase of more than €22m, although Q2’s figure marked a sequential decline from Q1’s €100.3m. To no one’s surprise, football accounted for nearly three-quarters (74.4%) of all sports wagers in Q2, with tennis (14.2% and basketball (7.2%) well back of the mark.
The online casino vertical, into which the SRIJ lumps its lone poker licensee The Stars Group, reported revenue of €16.8m, a €5.4m improvement year-on-year but only €800k higher than Q1.
Slots remained the top online casino vertical, accounting for 55.4% of Q1’s casino revenue. Poker cash games claimed a 15.3% share while tournament poker hit 5.1%, for a combined poker share of 20.4%, up from 18.6% in Q1. The poker gains are likely attributable to Portugal joining PokerStars’ new European liquidity pool with France and Spain.
The government’s share of Q2’s online revenue hit €16.9m, up €3.6m year-on-year. Portugal imposes a variable tax rate on sports betting turnover that tops out at 16%, a punitive measure that has been blamed for the market’s inability to ‘channel’ local punters to locally licensed gambling sites.
Rather than reduce the tax rate, the government has prioritized efforts to eliminate the option of playing with international sites. As of June 30, the SRIJ has issued notices to some 302 international sites and ordered local internet service providers to block 237 of these domains. The SRIJ has forwarded the names of 11 particularly recalcitrant operators to local prosecutors “for the purpose of proceedings.”
For a month now, Spanish gaming operator Luckia has been telling media outlets that it has secured an online gambling license from the SRIJ, although the SRIJ’s official roster of online licensees has yet to confirm this approval. Nonetheless, Luckia has stated that it intends to launch its Portuguese operations in September, so confirmation should be imminent.