Gambling in Portugal
Gambling in Portugal is legal both for land-based facilities as well as online. The annual gross revenue from the country's casinos is more than 288 million EUR. Unlike neighbouring Spain, slot machines are the ones that bring the most profit. The share of slots in the revenue from the industry is 81%. Gambling industry laws provide that Portugal has so-called gaming zones. This is the only place where casinos can operate. Types of games are regulated by individual legislative acts that were passed back in the 1990s and 2000s. There are three organizations that deal with the issues of the gambling industry: Serviço de Regulação e Inspeção de Jogos do Turismo de Portugal (SRIJ), Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa (SCML) and The Gambling Commission (Comissão de Jogos). Each organization performs its own functions in overseeing and monitoring the gambling industry.
Casinos in Portugal
There are 11 casinos in operation. Casino Chaves (Hotel Casino Chaves), Casino Espinho, Casino Estoril, Casino Figueira da Foz (Casino Figueira), Casino Funchal (Casino da Madeira), Casino Lisbon (Casino Lisboa), Casino Monte Gordo (Casino de Monte Gordo), Casino Portimao (Hotel Algarve Casino), Casino Povoa de Varzim (Casino da Povoa), Casino Quarteira (Casino de Vilamoura) and Casino Troia (Troia Hotel).
Casino Games in Portugal
Slot machines are in ever greater demand in Portugal. These are some of the slots that are most favoured by the players: Beach Life, Thunderstruck II, Blade, Gladiator and Dragon's Myth. Beach Life is a five-reel slot by Playtech. The slot features 20 paylines, a jackpot and a bonus game with multipliers. Thunderstruck II is a slot by Microgaming. The slot comes with 5 reels and provides 243 ways to win. The slot features four levels of free spins with various opportunities available. The bonus game will turn the reels totally "Wild". Blade is a five-reel slot by Playtech. Here you have a chance to get some free spins with the multiplier of up to x5 and some extra Wild symbols. The bonus game will complement the winning combinations by adding some extra symbols. A progressive jackpot is also available. Gladiator is a five-reel slot by Playtech that comes with 25 paylines. The slot features a bonus game with a jackpot and a bonus game with a chance to select the prize: free spins or multipliers of some extra symbols. Dragon's Myth is a five-reel slot by Rabcat. You have to collect four dragons to trigger the bonus round, earn a series of free spins and a bonus game where combinations are read in both directions.
According to the legislation, only the state can be involved in gambling business in Portugal. The state, however, can transfer this right to private operators in the form of a concession. The law has provided 10 gaming zones in Portugal: Azores, Algarve, Espinho, Estoril, Figueira da Foz, Funchal, Porto Santo, Póvoa de Varzim, Troia and Vidago-Pedras Salgadas. Only eight of them have casinos with acting concessions. Bingo halls can only be located on the casino premises. Most of the revenue comes from the establishments located in Estoril, which is 49.5%. Other major gaming zones are Póvoa de Varzim and Espinho. They account for 15% of the proceeds from the games. People under 18 years of age have no right to play or enter the casinos. State employees are not allowed to play either: politicians, judges, police officers etc. There are also limitations imposed on the amounts that can be spent on bets. Each type of gambling is regulated by a separate statute:
- National lottery - Decree-Law No. 200/2009
- Scratch cards - Decree-Law No. 314/94
- Football match pools (Totogolo) - Decree-Law No. 225/98
- Bingo - Decree-Law No. 31/2011 and Ordinance No. 128/2011
- Gaming machines and slot machines - Decree-Law No. 310/2002
- Fixed sports bets - Decree-Law No. 67/2015
Casino games are regulated by four different acts that outline how to run a casino and work with the personnel, among other important issues:
- Gambling Law dated December 2, 1989 with the amendments of Decree-Law No. 114/2011 (main law)
- Ordinance No. 1159/90 (work with the personnel)
- Ordinance No. 217/2007 (rules of the games)
- Law No. 8/2006 (how to hire a croupier)
Online games are regulated by Decree-Law No. 66/2015. This is the category that includes all gambling that is provided remotely through various media.
There are three organizations that regulate gaming business in Portugal: Serviço de Regulação e Inspeção de Jogos do Turismo de Portugal (SRIJ), Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa (SCML) and The Gambling Commission (Comissão de Jogos). Serviço de Regulação e Inspeção de Jogos (SRIJ) oversees, inspects and regulates land-based facilities and online platforms. This organisation also determines how to play responsibly, helps gambling addicts and conducts various market research. The service provides technical support for the police if a warning has to be made or sanctions applied against illegal operators. Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa (SCML) is responsible for monitoring and inspecting national lotteries, horse racing and fixed bets that were placed in land-based establishments. Comissão de Jogos coordinates and oversees Serviço de Regulação e Inspeção de Jogos. This is the organization that issues licenses and regulatory enactments, monitors contracts with operators and solves administrative problems. Its functions also include inspecting technical equipment for gaming facilities.
To qualify for a license in Portugal, the operator must participate in a public tender. The public tender is announced by the state and takes place within a limited timeframe. The operator can obtain several licenses, yet at the same time each license will cover a separate territory. The operator must have a registered office in a country that is a member of the European Union or that is located within the European economic zone. The operator must also cooperate with the administration on the issues of taxation, while preventing any fraud or money laundering. Foreign companies must have their representative in Portugal. A license for land-based concessions will remain valid for 10 years for casinos and 20 years for bingo halls. The permit may be extended if the government approve the operators application for an extension. The cost of the license is individual in each case and the decision is made based on the results of the public tender. Usually operators pay the so-called indemnity to the authorities. The amount is based on the size of the gross revenue. In addition, the companies may invest in some events, operations or construction in the municipality that hosts gaming facilities.
Licensed varieties of gambling
These are the games that are licensed in the gaming zones: American and French roulette, dice, Card games: baccarat, 21, punto banco, macao, chemin de fer and five types of poker, bingo and slot machines. Other games are regulated by the Tourism Secretary of State. The rules are set by Comissão de Jogos. Most of the revenue comes from slot machines. Their share is 81% of the overall gross revenue of all casinos. Next follows the roulette (6.4%), French dice (3.3%) and baccarat/punto banco (3.3%).
In Portugal there are four types of licenses issued to online operators: For fixed sports bets, for horse racing, bingo and for casino games (baccarat, dice, blackjack, slot machines, poker, etc.). The application procedure is the same as it is for land-based operators. The permit is valid for three years and can be extended. This is how payments for licenses for online operators are broken down: the initial fee is 18,000 EUR plus 2,000 EUR for each type of bets and casino games, the fee for issuing a new license - 2,000 EUR for each type of gambling and the fee for running the games that were not included in the initial license - 2,000 EUR for each type. Extension or expansion of the license must also be paid for. The size of the payment will depend on the type of the game. The fee for fixed sports bets and horse racing is 12,000 EUR for bingo - 2,000 EUR. for casino games - 12,000 EUR plus 2,000 EUR more for each new type of gambling. The operators must also pay out the warranties while obtaining the license. Warranty obligations for an online operator cost 100,000 EUR.
Land-based casinos pay a special gaming tax that depends on the location of the gaming establishment. The tax is levied on the gross revenue and varies between 4.5% and 40%. Bingo halls pay tax on printing the cards in the amount of 25%. Online operators of casino games and bets on horse racing pay 15% to 30% of the amount of bets that the players have placed. Operators of fixed sports bets and fixed bets on horse racing pay 8% to 15%. No Portuguese developers of slots or casino software products are known. Yet the gambling market has been undergoing a successful development, which has brought a substantial profit into the national treasury. The concept of game zones has worked well for players, casinos and the government.