Portuguese gambling laws could be set for a freshen up as the government has announced the liberalization of the market. Currently, gambling in Portugal is run by a betting and lottery monopoly – Santa Case de Misericordia de Lisboa (SCML) – but legislators seem to have finally come round to the idea of a regulated and open market.
Probably the biggest reason for this is the country’s debt. With unemployment set to soar to 17.7% next year, the country is badly in need of new tax revenue, and the taxation of Portuguese internet casinos could bring in as much as EUR 250 million in the first year alone. That revenue would go some way to shoring up a faltering recovery, but the country has to learn from the mistakes of their neighbor, Spain.
Despite bringing in EUR 234 million in tax revenues over the first year, Spanish gambling companies reported losses of EUR 72.5 million, thanks – in no small part – to the high tax burden placed on the operators. With tax set at an eye watering 25% on gross revenue, and the operators still needing to compete with unlicensed foreign operators, the Spanish online market has hardly been sailing in calm waters.
Back in Portugal, and it has been reported that the government has set up a new working group to discuss online gambling. The group is expected to prepare a study on various regulatory measures and outline the best choice for the country going forward. However, while the popularity of mobile betting throughout the rest of Europe is on the rise, the government have yet to place any timescale on Portuguese regulation.
Whatever the future holds for gambling in Portugal, it’s safe to say that betting on the Iberian peninsula is sure to undergo some major changes in the coming years, changes that are already late, considering the regulated nature of most other European markets.