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Government to Consider New Online Gaming Bill in Portugal

- June 16, 2014 By Oliver Young -

Portugal flag

Portuguese government considers passing an online gaming bill

The government of Portugal is apparently complying with the requests from the Troika, namely the EU, IMF and the European Central Bank that are responsible for the country’s bailout, and it has expressed its intention to come with new gaming laws and present them to the parliament.

The Portuguese government booked parliamentary time allowed by a procedural rule in order to hold a debate on the iGaming issue before the end of the session of the parliament on July 10, 2014.

“Gaming operators outside Portugal are allowed to apply for licenses and a tax rate from 15% to 20% is expected to be imposed.”

The regulatory system should closely resemble that of Spain. The Finance Ministry has been keeping the proposed laws for over 3 years, but the opposition to legalize online gaming has been very strong.

The Bailout Demands of the Troika

The international lenders- the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the European Central Bank that comprise the Troika- saved Portugal from bankruptcy over three years ago. Since then they have been monitoring the economic reforms of the country which is a condition of the May 2011 £66bn bailout.

One of the bailout demands is that the country must present proposals to legalize and tax online gambling within a month, but this was back in February. Santa Casa da Misericordia de Lisboa (SCML) is currently in charge of the gaming regulation that has been opposed to laws which would decrease its gaming income. The religious foundation which is a couple of hundred years old has been funding projects like charitable hospitals for poor people from its income which is mainly generated from regulating gambling.

If Portugal exists from the bailout, the country will get back its financial independence and it would be allowed to borrow on the financial markets. The country hopes to leave the bailout agreement soon.

“We Are Ready!”

Pedro Santana Lopes, the boss of the charity foundation, said in a statement in November 2013 that he agrees with the new lawmaking and he is ready to take some action. “If the state allows us to exploit online sports betting as we hope, we are ready to start immediate investigations,” said Santana in a statement. “However, the other operators interested in legalizing online gambling are apparently not ready,” he added.

The newly proposed online gambling laws are expected to strip the monopoly of SCML which is responsible for all lotteries and sports betting in Portugal and allow the issue of licenses to operators outside the country’s borders.

However, SCML would probably keep its current revenues share and it will continue with its operations. It holds 27.8 percent of the revenues it creates from hosting its own lottery events and online gambling site.

As of this writing, the government of Portugal makes sure that its residents have access to SCML-approved casino sites and it has blocked all foreign online gaming sites from local ISPs.

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