The numbers are in, and the numbers make clear that Portugal’s online gambling industry is thriving. For the fourth quarter of 2018 and according to figures released a couple of months ago by the Serviço Regulação e Inspeção de Jogos do Turismo de Portugal (SRIJ) regulatory body, the nation’s eight licensed online gambling sites generated collective revenues of €43m for the quarter. That represents a nearly 18% improvement over the same period in 2017. That’s an impressive number for an online gambling industry that’s operating in just its second full year of existence.
Breaking the numbers down a little further, the country’s sports betting licensees reported revenues of €21.6m for the period being reported. That’s a modest €1.1m rise from the fourth quarter of 2017. Betting turnover was up close to 30% at €110.6m, which is significantly higher than bookmakers reported during last summer’s FIFA World Cup. On the negative side, the revenue figures failed to meet expectations due to a difficult December, during which the action was dominated by gamblers who were consistently beating the bookmakers. During this span, operator revenues fell 9% year-on-year.
One the online casino side of the ledger, the numbers are even more impressive. As reported by the SRU, online casino revenues, including online poker, hit a record €21.5m in the fourth quarter, a number that is 33% higher than the same period in 2017 and €1.1m higher than the prior quarter in 2018. Slots accounted for more than 60% of these revenues, while roulette and blackjack came in at 14% and 8.5%, respectively. Online Poker earned a 10.6% slice while tournament events brought in the remaining 5.3% share.
The growth is not confined to revenues. As anyone could surmise, there’s a direct correlation between the growth in revenues and the growth is registered customers. During the 4th quarter 2018, the eight online gambling sites reported new registrations of 103K customers. The number of customers who chose to self-exclude came in at approximately 31.5K people, up slightly from the same reporting period in 2017.
Clearly, these numbers indicate the legalization of online gambling for the Portuguese people has been a smashing success for the gambling industry. It has also translated to some healthy tax revenues going in the nation’s coffers. It noteworthy that 19 unlicensed online gambling sites were blocked after illegally allowing access to the nation’s gamblers. Top European providers like Casumo may not be licensed as of yet, but there is room for growth.
Portugal’s Gambling Industry Moving Forward
Heading into the latter part of 2019 and all of 2020, there could be significant changes in Portugal’s gambling market. Earlier last year, there were rumblings about the government considering a decrease in the applicable tax rate, which currently stands at a whopping 16%. Those conversations were quickly squashed, but it’s something the industry could put in its back pocket as a way to motivate the industry to continue growing at a upward trajectory.
The country might also want to take a look at how the horse racing industry is being managed. Currently, the state-run Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa (SCML) holds a monopoly over the entire horse racing industry. The growth rate for the industry has remained flat in spite of the introduction of online gambling. Should the government decide to allow outside participants to involved, there is potential for growth.
What’s going on in Portugal should serve as a business model for other European nations that are looking to legislate the legalization of online gambling for its citizen. Portugal seems to have done everything the right way as evidenced by the fact the gambling industry current growth rate has exceeded all expectation. Furthermore, there seems to be more room to growth.