Under the current Portuguese gambling laws, only 11 traditional casino gambling licenses have been issued. Each of the brick-n-mortar casinos in Portugal are attached to mega hotel-resorts and are located in the major tourists areas.
Online gambling news in Portugal reports that Estoril Casino near Lisbon, the largest in Europe for over 40 years, is the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s Casino Royal and the creation of James Bond.
The remaining ten Portuguese casinos are: Santa Casa da Misericordia de Lisboa , Trojan Casino (under construction), Casino de Alvor, Casino de Chave, Casino de Espinho, Casino da Figueira da Foz, Madeira Casino Lisbon Casino, Monte Gordo Casino, Casino da Povoa and the Casino of Vilamoura.
The posh casinos target tourists and visitors and were constructed as an additional tourist attraction and not to entertain the local population. Surprisingly unlike the rest of the world (except Macau), the Portuguese casino industry was not affected by the recession. In fact, profits grew by 12% between 2009 and 2010 alone.
In Portugal there are four casinos that currently pay a 50% tax on gross profits but when the casino must purchase new equipment the government kindly contributes 50% of the cost.
The rest of the casinos are leased out to operators such as the Pestana Group which operates the casinos for the government in exchange for a 12% commission on net profits.
Pestana’s CEO, J.M. Luigi was the former president of the Portuguese Association of Casinos and is quite proud of the Portuguese casino industry. Mr. Luigi firmly believes that until online casino in Portugal are licensed and regulated, the country will be missing out on millions in lost tax revenues.
Mr. Luigi sees a bright future for Portuguese gaming – “There are three types of customers who visit a casino in Portugal. There are customers who go to casino for the fun: to eat at the top restaurant, watch a good show, dance at the disco.
“The second type are the customers who are gamblers, and could care less about the disco and see the room as a place to refocus between long term sessions at the tables.
“The third type are the casual players who fly around the casino and hotel like birds and sample a little from everything and fly away. Our casinos have all three types in equal proportions, and that tell me we are entertaining everyone and the casinos are healthy.”