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Portugal's Gambling Market 2023: Positive Trends and Record Growth of the Industry

Portugal's Gambling Market 2023: Positive Trends and Record Growth of the Industry

Updated 16/10/2023

At the moment, gambling in Portugal is totally legal. Despite the relatively small area (ninety-two thousand square kilometres) and a relatively small population (ten million four hundred thousand people), there are ten game zones in the country. This year, the Portuguese gambling market demonstrates rapid growth because local operators have offered their customers the favourable ratio of prices and quality of the services.

Specialists from Gaminator have collected comprehensive information on the current state of affairs, the nuances of taxation, and the basic requirements for those who want to obtain a permit.

Gambling market in Portugal: 2019 news and trends

Portuguese casinos are often compared to the luxurious locations of Monte Carlo, Macau, and Las Vegas. They are one of the main factors of the massive influx of European tourists into the country. Gamblers have access to games that fir every taste, lotteries and bingo, a wide range of betting services (including draws that are based on the results of horse racing). In this article, you will be able to read about the most popular entertainment and the major websites in the country.

Stages of Development of Gambling Portugal: a Brief Historical Background

The key feature of this field is that the sector is completely self-sufficient. The main part of the legislative norms and principles of control over this area was formed during the time of the fascist dictatorship, and they still provide the stable operation of the entire industry.

The first stage of development of the gambling market took place at the beginning of the twentieth century. The first casino appeared back in 1904. Unfortunately, the peace lasted only six years. The next decade was marked by a frequent renewal of the political structure. In just sixteen years, forty-four government machineries have come off duty in Portugal.

Until 1960, all gambling establishments worked only during the summer period (during the tourist season). The situation remained ambiguous until 1974 and the next coup that was called the “Carnation Revolution”. In 1979, all casino owners were private individuals. It was from this time that the gambling industry in Portugal began a smooth and stable development.

Operators can carry out their activities only in several reservations ― this aspect has remained unchanged until today.

Today, in Portugal, there are ten gambling zones:

  • Azores;
  • Algarve;
  • Vidago-Pedras Salgadas;
  • Povoa de Varzim;
  • Porto Santo;
  • Troia;
  • Figueira da Foz;
  • Madeira;
  • Espinho;
  • Estoril.

Despite strict territorial restrictions, certain types of entertainment for money can be organised beyond the boundaries of reservations (for example, on ships and planes that are registered in the country but are located outside of it). Beyond the zones that are mentioned above, non-bank games (bingo) can also be played. There is also a temporary restriction on the organisation of games during public events with a large number of tourists. In the crowded places, slot machines can be installed (for example, in hotel compounds).

Gambling in Portugal: the Current State of Affairs

Not so long ago, the Portuguese gambling regulator published a financial report for the third quarter of 2018. According to statistics, today, there are eight legal suppliers in the country, whose revenues, for the specified period of time, have reached the mark of thirty-eight million five hundred thousand euro. Compared with the data of 2017 and taking into account that the previous in indicators were down by 18%, the industry has not only “recovered from the shock” but also exceeded the expected results by 9 million euro.

The growth of the gambling market most significantly affected the bookmaker’s offices ― this sphere brought about twenty million euro.

The online market also shows positive results ― an increase of 24%. The total income from online slots and sports betting has reached one hundred fifty-two million one hundred thousand euro.

Last year was not only the second year of legal gambling operations on the Internet but also the time of making a deal with representative offices in France, Spain, and Italy, which allowed operators to combine pools of players. SRIJ reported on this issue:

After the beginning of the contract, all licensed online poker operators can offer tables and poker tournaments to gamblers all over the world. We are talking about the citizens of those countries that have signed an agreement for the overall liquidity of online poker.

Largest segments of online gambling in Portugal

Another new trend refers to poker and card tournaments. For the past two years, PokerStars has been a monopolist in the Portuguese market. Many fans of gambling preferred to make use of the services of offshore poker rooms because taxes on the game were too high. However, last year, a new player entered the market ― 888 Holdings. The “change of power” was a rapid and powerful boon of the sector ― by the end of 2018, legal online poker in Portugal grew by 20% (it is three times higher than in France).

The Largest Gaming Sites in Portugal

Currently, we can name eleven platforms that are functioning legally:

Casino Estoril

It is the biggest location in Europe that was built in the early twentieth century. The legend says that after visiting Estoril, Ian Fleming wrote the first James Bond novel Casino Royale.

The elevation of the building is a great combination of glass and metal, surrounded by an exotic garden. Besides the standard set of games for money, the gambling establishment offers daily concerts, dancing performances, and even an art gallery with exhibits of modern sculptors and artists.

Casino Lisboa

This is part of the gambling empire of the famous billionaire Stanley Ho. Located in the heart of the Park of Nations (Lisbon), the casino has over a thousand slot machines and about twenty tables for card games.

Initially, it was designed to receive six thousand visitors a day but the favourable location, the concert venue, and the whole chain of restaurants have made it so popular that the number of visitors per day exceeded ten thousand people.

Casino Peninsular-Figueira da Foz

The oldest gambling house of Portugal. It amazes with the beauty of the architecture and the number of entertainment. Customers of the luxury casino can enjoy three hundred slot machines and card tables, as well as colourful shows and fine cuisine of local restaurants.

Peninsular-Figueira da Foz was the home of the Portuguese aristocracy at the beginning of the last century and is considered to be a historical monument.

Casino de Troia

This is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Portugal. The casino pleases its visitors with wonderful beaches, hotels, and locations for an active nightlife.

Casino Da Povoa

It was built in the neoclassical style and is considered to be the place of resort for the Portuguese aristocracy.

Casino Espinho-Solverde

The gambling establishment has become an excellent addition to the tourist infrastructure. Besides the variety of games, its visitors are offered a wide range of gastronomic services (the casino has two large-scale food villages)

Casino De Chaves

A relatively new location with interiors in a modern style. Being practically on the border with Spain, the casino is additionally equipped with hotel complexes, a spa centre, and a large concert venue.

Casino De Vilamoura

It is famous for its large-scale poker tournaments and colourful shows with local celebrities.

The casino has more than fifty slot machines and a huge number of card tables.

Casino De Monte Gordo

Almost every night, visitors to the casino can spend with celebrities and enjoy many international show programs.

Hotel Algarve Casino

It is located on the coast and allows you to combine a measured beach holiday with a nightlife, which is full of fun and vivid impressions.

Casino Da Madeira

This casino building was designed by a famous Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. The gambling house is surrounded by a stunning park and is coincident with the hotel complex. On the fifth floor of the casino, you can regularly see colourful entertainment shows.

Gambling Regulators in Portugal

Today, the market is under the control of three structures:

Serviço de Regulação e Inspeção de Jogos do Turismo de Portugal (SRIJ)

It monitors, inspects, and regulates the work of land-based locations and virtual services. Also, SRIJ defines the meaning of the term “responsible gaming”, helps gambling addicted users in their rehabilitation, and makes analytical research of the sector. It also cooperates with the system of justice and has the right to warn violators and apply sanctions against illegal suppliers.

Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa (SCML)

It controls the organisation of state lotteries, fixed sports betting, and the results of horse racing. Its sphere of influence applies only to land-based locations.

Comissão de jogos

The structure grants licenses and establishes the standards of regulation. Authorised representatives are entitled to analyse the contracts of market participants, resolve administrative issues, and check for a match between technical devices for the equipment of gaming zones and the existing rules.

Each participant in the industry is strictly monitored. Despite the work of three regulators, their activity is under the control of the Minister of Commerce and Tourism of Portugal. An additional structure was created on the basis of the ministry, called Inspeccao-Geral de Jogos. Its responsibilities include the assistance in regulating the market (all decisions of the body are advisory).

Features of the Legislative Control

Statutory enactments in great detail regulate the activity of providers of gambling services in the country. Thus, in 2023, in the Portuguese gambling market, we can see a clear classification of legal games for money: banking entertainment, solutions with a separate or double bank, non-banking games, slot machines with instant winnings, and gambling products, which require the use of mechanical devices.

Statutory enactments also cover the following aspects:

Rules of the Game

For example, a double stake in blackjack can take place only after the appearance of a combination above the nine (article fifty-eight, paragraph four).

Access to a Gambling Establishment

Portugal has several restrictions:

  • access to games is prohibited to citizens who have not reached the age of eighteen;
  • the prohibition can be applied to people who were found guilty of deliberate bankruptcy;
  • insolvent debtors also do not have a right to visit casinos;
  • the access is not allowed to people in a uniform;
  • the staff, even if they come after work, also do not have a right to visit casinos;
  • the prohibition is applied to government employees as well (judges, officials, representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs), law enforcement officers (however, the above-described categories of citizens are free to stay on the territory of a casino).

Entrance to the gambling club is possible only after the registration and identification of the client. Also, he needs to pay for being able to visit a gambling hall. The payment is not mandatory only for high-ranking officials, website management, and invited guests.

In all locations, there should be representatives of the Chief Inspector who control the work schedule. Portugal casinos should entertain guests no more than twelve hours a day.

The issuance of credit limits to visitors is strictly prohibited.

Licensing of Gambling Startups

To purchase a permit in Portugal, applicants have to take part in a public tender process. They have the right to obtain several permits at once but each of them is limited to a certain territory.

To participate in the tender process, it is necessary to meet the following requirements:

  • purchase or lease the office space in a country that is a member of the European Union or the EU economic zone;
  • cooperate with administrative authorities in matters of taxation and fraud prevention;
  • conclude an agreement with a local representative (for foreign entrepreneurs).

The permit for land-based locations is valid for ten years, and bingo halls ― twenty years. It can be extended by filing an appropriate application to the authorised state body.

The service’s price is calculated individually and depends on the outcome of the tender process.

How to Open an Online Casino in Portugal?

Online gambling in Portugal

The legalisation of the virtual market in the country has started in 2015, and the first legal online casino began its work in the summer of 2016. Today, the industry is at the initial stage of development and demonstrates excellent growth data.

Online operators can be provided with three forms of licenses: accepting bets on sporting events, betting on horse racing results, and bingo and online games (slot machines, cards, various kinds of table games).

The licensing scheme is the same as for owners of traditional casinos. Only the period of validity of a license and the way of payment for the service are different. A permit is issued for three years, and the payment system is like this:

  • initial payment ― eighteen thousand euro;
  • payment for each type of bets and online slots ― two thousand euro per product unit;
  • granting of a new license ― two thousand euro for each new game;
  • management of games that are not included in the main document ― two thousand euro for each new unit;
  • extension of a permit ― from two to twelve thousand euro (it depends on the type of services).

A compulsory condition for being able to work in the market is the presence of a security deposit of one hundred thousand euro minimum.

The Taxation System

Taxes for land-based casinos are calculated depending on their location. The size of a fee is proportional to the gross income and may be 4.5-40%.

For holders of bingo halls, a fixed tax is set. Commission from operators is charged only for printing card denominations and is 25%.

Online operators are offered an adjustable rate of 15-30%.

For virtual bookmakers who accept fixed bets on sports events and horse racing results, a tax of 8-15% is provided.


We can say that the prospects for the development of the Portuguese gambling sector are good. The state machinery does not intend to refuse flows, which may come into the budget and makes positive decisions for further growth.

According to analysts, the best time for entering the Portuguese online gambling market is now. This sector is at the stage of formation and is an excellent environment for the creation of a fairly large customer base.

For more detailed information on the main trends and current changes in the regulation, you can always contact specialists from Gaminator. We are ready to provide you with current news and the detailed market analysis and find profitable solutions for the realisation of startups of any format.

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Artur Zimnij
Artur Zimnij
Gambling business specialist
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