Portugal remains one of the hardest hit European countries in the recent worldwide economic recession, with a budget deficit of roughly EUR 478 million, but now the Portuguese authorities feel as though they may have the answer to the problem. Online gambling.
At present, Portuguese gambling laws are run in the form of a monopoly by Santa Casa de Misericordia de Lisboa, though this could be set to change as lawmakers across the country, along with the Portuguese government are considering opening up the Portuguese gambling market to outsiders and offshore businesses in an attempt to soften the hardship.
The news will no doubt be of interest to many online casinos in Portugal and sportsbooks sites many of whom are currently seeking partnerships, unions, and mergers as a way of expanding their business interests in Europe at a time when several countries are cutting off and restricting offshore businesses.
It wasn’t too long ago that Bwin unsuccessfully tried to create some wiggle room for itself in the country, though they were ousted by Santa Casa, who went on to win a court case over the sportsbook giants. Bwin, despite having placed over EUR 4,000,000 in the national football team, are now saddled with a riding EUR 27 million damages claim from Santa Casa.
The government’s estimated revenue for the operation could be as much as EUR 250 million in this year alone, which would go a long way to halving their national deficit, and online gambling sites in Portugal are popular. With a good sizable percentage of male avid football fans, it is widely predicted that sportsbooks would have a large share of the spoils in the country, should the move ever become a reality.
For the moment though it is all just chin wagging, but very soon the economic condition in Portugal and the growing popularity and sizable incomes being wrestled from gamblers across Europe could force the Atlantic coast country’s hand quicker than has been reportedly expected.
The possibility of thrusting a few million Euros of online gambling tax revenue into the burning pocket of the national budget deficit, may very well be too hard to turn down.