Find about all the casinos that accept players from Portugal.
Take a look at the end on the Q&A section for casinos that accept wagering in cryptocurrency within Portugal or for Portuguese players.
The history of gambling in Portugal can be traced back to 1783. In 1910, the country changed its monarchical form of government to a Republican one, which provoked a frequent change of power from hand to hand, and instability spread to the gambling industry. Over the next 15 years, gambling was banned and then legalized again.
A new type of government set around 1974 by Antonio Salazar saw some changes to the gambling legislation and the gambling industry gained legal status and stability, and the number of casinos in the country began to increase.
Like many European markets, at some stage the Portuguese gambling industry faced the nationalization of facilities. This happened shortly after the fall of the Salazar regime. However, the state did not succeed in managing the gambling business, so they soon decided to abandon the idea.
The oldest and one of the biggest casinos in whole Europe is Casino Estoril, which was created thanks to the Portuguese businessman and capitalist Teodoro dos Santos, in 1931. This casino from the beginning was regarded as a great entertainment and cultural center and as one of the most fashionable places in the country.
Land-based gambling establishments in Portugal cannot operate for more than 12 hours a day. This explains the fact that they usually open in the evening, and operate until late at night.
Portugal’s gambling market is pretty relaxed nowadays when it comes to gambling laws in relation to other European countries.
Legality of gambling practices
Many gambling activities are actually legal in Portugal, both casinos and lottery are allowed without much hassle. However, the problem comes when you take online gambling into account, local websites are aimed primarily at locally-based players.
The state is the one responsible, or rather, the one that takes care of what is understood as games of luck, also known as games of chance. These types of games can be organized by separate entities from any government-owned institution while the state is enabled with the power to authorize games offering prizes that are not monetary.
When it comes to non-charitable companies, they’re not given authorization for the organization of any gambling related activities except when its for a specific promotional reason.
The exclusive right to organize social games, which the state benefits directly, are provided to the so-called Santa Casa da Misericordia de Lisboa Games Department (more-widely known under the abbreviation SCML). Such games include the state lottery and sports betting. Horse racing activities and events’ authorization and organization, however, are excluded from the rights of the SCML.
At first, the SCML delegated some of its responsibilities to the Department of Sports Betting as well as to the National Lottery Service. Then, the SCML transferred the running, and monitoring of all games to the Games Department that is run also under the hat of the SCML.
Alternatively, the Gambling Inspection and Regulation Service (Serviço de Regulação e Inspeção de Jogos) is responsible for the control, inspection and regulation of gambling activities in casinos and bingo halls (territorial concessions), as well as long-distance gambling (fixed-odds sports betting and mutual or fixed-odds horse race betting) through any electronic, computer-based, telematic or any other interactive means (online gambling and betting).
Any illegal actions related to gambling operations in the country are to be punished by local laws. Organizing or participating in gambling operations and activities at venues other than casinos and bingo halls are considered illegal and are to be prosecuted.
Online gambling in Portugal
Portugal’s government has made the country an online gambling-friendly one. All forms of gambling, including web-based, are currently regulated by the Government of the country. The authorities have set a goal of providing citizens with legal, closely-monitored, and most of all, safe gambling opportunities.
The Government is even operating a number of online casinos and works in collaboration with several private web-based gambling entities in order to provide reliable gambling services to the citizens of Portugal.
To date, online operations of Portuguese sportsbooks and lotteries are controlled by the SCML. The country’s Government, on the other hand, has played an important role in blocking foreign online casinos that are not licensed, in order that they do not reach local players.
Some of these rules were hoped to be changed. In 2013 the Government revealed that online gambling activities were planned to be legalized in the country. The government realized at the time that adding more flexibility in the gambling regulations could result in a surge of income for the country, considering that taxation was expected to be a thing.
Taxation and Licensing of online gambling were the actual priorities at the moment so a special bill was sent to the parliament to start the negotiations. Legal regulations were expected to be set up by the end of 2014.
When it came to licensing and taxation the Government’s plans included a large range of online products and services, which included an online casino, sports betting, horse racing wagering, and poker.
The amount of tax in Portugal depends on several factors – what region the services are provided in, and what type of gambling is subject to taxation. For land-based casino operations, including poker and bingo, a tax rate of 4.5 to 45% of the gambling establishment’s GGR is set. If bingo services are provided in separate halls, and not on the basis of a casino, this type of activity is subject to taxation at the rate of 25% of GGR.
The tax on online gambling, also known as IEJO, can also vary. If the Commission charged by the operator is its only income, the IEJO amount is 15%. For online betting operations, there is a tax rate of 15 to 30% GGR.
Two concession agreements will expire in December 2020. Therefore, most likely, public auctions will be announced in Portugal. It is expected that operators will be able to participate in the procedure early next year.
Changes to the tax regime are still under consideration by the government, but it is worth noting that Portuguese licensees have for many years complained about excessive tax burden, and their desire was supported by the EU authorities.
The secret of gambling establishments in Portugal is simple – they are closer to Las Vegas and Macau for European users, but much less pompous than Monte Carlo casinos, so they are ideal for fans of the mass gambling market.
In 2015, several new laws were approved by the Government of the country in order to move forward with the expansion of Portugal’s current legislation. The Council of Ministers once again approved the online gambling and gambling-associated activities legal framework in order to create new gambling regulations for more stability of the system.
The online legal framework has been amended in 2020 in order to eliminate the progressive tax rate, expressly foreseeing the revaluation of tax regime in two years. New amendments may occur sooner.
Informal segment still a big issue
Despite the stable and profitable operation of the Portuguese market licensees, users still use the services of international companies that operate in the country without permission. Therefore, representatives of the industry appealed to the authorities to block the accounts of illegal operators. Surprisingly, according to current data, 56% of Portuguese prefer the services of operators of the shadow segment.
According to representatives of the legal gambling market, the authorities are not making enough efforts to eliminate unlicensed operators.