Portugal’s Online Gaming Industry Registers Growth of Almost 9 Percent

Online gambling continues to experience growth in many regions, even if there are some occasional dips. Europe is seeing a significant expansion of its iGaming industry, and Portugal is a strong driver of that growth.

Porto, Portugal
Porto, Portugal
The seaside city of Porto, Portugal during the day. Portugal’s online gaming industry registered growth of almost 9% in the third quarter of last year. (Image: Rititaneves/Wikimedia Commons)

Revenue from online gambling operators in Portugal reached €159.1 million (US$170.82 million) in the third quarter of last year. This is the highest mark the country has ever recorded, according to the Portuguese Gaming Regulation and Inspection Service (SRIJ, for its Portuguese acronym).

Spain, Italy, the UK, and other European countries are all expanding their online gaming activity. That’s even as the industry is dealing with a series of highs and lows, including the downturn land-based markets witnessed during COVID-19.

Portugal iGaming Ticks Upward

The greatest revenue for Portugal’s online gaming industry came from games of chance. With revenue of €69.3 million (US$74.4 million), it provided 56.5% of the total gross gaming revenue (GGR).

Like in many other markets, online slots were the biggest attraction. They garnered 80% of the volume, while roulette controlled 7.6%, blackjack took 4.9%, and poker had just 3.9%.

Sports betting was responsible for 43.5% of the total GGR, according to the SRIJ’s data. That was enough for €89.8 million (US$95.3 million), although the fourth quarter will likely bring more. The conclusion of the World Cup will likely have provided a significant windfall once the numbers are in.

The government did well in the online gaming segment, too. Tax revenue was €50.3 million (US$53.3 million), €10.3 million (US$11.06 million) more than a year earlier.

The growth came as Portugal added more online gaming users. The SRIJ stated that there were 771,300 player accounts at the end of the quarter, which is 7.7% more than the figure from Q2.

The majority of online gamblers, 37.1%, fall in the 25-34 age group. Next are those between 35 and 44, with 23.3%, while the 18-24 age group only grabbed a 21.1% share.

The country’s responsible gambling efforts seem to be working. At the end of the quarter, there were 138,000 self-excluded gamblers, a significant rise from the approximate 100K from a year earlier.

Portugal Arrived Early

Since 2015, online casinos have enjoyed legal protections in Portugal. Currently, there are 15 operators in the market offering a variety of titles for different user profiles.

The cost of entry isn’t excessive. For online casino games, the fee is 15% of gross revenue. If this amount exceeds €5 million (US$5.36 million), the fee can go up to 30%.

As robust a market as it is, not all forms of gambling are legal in Portugal. The SRIJ limits online operators to slot machines, blackjack, roulette, baccarat, bingo, and poker. Additional options could be approved this year, which is good news for operators, as offering a game the regulator prohibits is a serious offense that could lead to the revocation of a license.

As in most other jurisdictions, online casinos are also subject to a plethora of safe advertising practices. For example, brands can’t advertise that online gambling is a solution to solve financial problems, nor can they convey a message that might lead to gambling addiction. This includes references to playing often, extending sessions, and more.

In addition, operators can’t advertise their products near educational facilities in an effort to keep the activity away from minors. However, sponsorships of sports teams are legal, with a number of sports betting operators appearing on team jerseys and alongside club names. Betano has deals with FC Porto and Benfica, and Bwin has one with Liga Portugal.

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