Over the years online gambling has become one of the most popular sources of entertainment. Players from all over the world flock towards online casino sites, thanks to the wide variety of gaming choices from online slots to a classic card and table games such as Roulette and Blackjack.
With the popularity surrounding online gambling, a fire has been lit under most country governing bodies. Most countries have decided to open their markets, though others have been determined to block out any online gambling activities. Then there are those like France who only allow certain forms of gambling within the country.
For the Portuguese, the laws and regulations regarding online gambling might be confusing thanks to major changes in the legislation over the years. In fact, the laws surrounding online gambling are said to be changing again in 2018. In this guide, we’ll take a look at the brief history of gambling in Portugal, as well as the laws and regulations and the effect of the prospective changes in them.
When you reach the end of this article you will have more clarity on the stance the government has on online gambling as well as tips on where to find the best online gambling entertainment when playing in Portugal.
Unlike many other countries such as Italy and even China, Portugal had quite a slow start with gambling. In fact, the first Portuguese casino was only founded in 1904, which is also the time during which gambling first became a thing in the country. It’s interesting to note that gambling has only ever been banned in Portugal for short periods of time. Overall gambling has always been considered legal within the country.
Did you know? One of the world’s oldest and most beautiful brick and mortar casinos, Casino Estoril, is situated in Portugal. The casino is a major attraction that lures players from all over the world. One lucky 70-year-old lady even managed to hit a $1 million jackpot there back in 2001.
When it comes to online gambling, on the other hand, things have been quite rocky in Portugal. The biggest issue with the online gambling market was that it was uncontrolled by the government. It was only between 2010 and 2012 that the government finally tried to gain control over the market by requiring all online casino operators to acquire a Portuguese licence before being able to enter the market.
Unfortunately, this movement from the governing bodies was rejected. The problem was that the state had a monopoly over the gambling activities in the country according to law. Unfortunately, the government did very little to control unregulated operators, which resulted in players having access to some of the top online casinos in the world.
It was only in 2015 that the gambling market saw a drastic change with the implementation of a new Decree-Law (No. 66/2015) which was signed into law on the 29th of April 2015. Before the laws were changed, foreign operators had free access to Portuguese players without the fear of being banned or taxed.
The new legislation has changed all that, as all online gambling operators are now required to obtain a licence as well as pay taxes to the Portuguese state. Online operators interested in accessing the Portuguese market are required to obtain their licence from The Serviço de Regulação e Inspeção de Jogos do Turismo de Portugal (SRIJ). There were much concern and conflict surrounding the high tax rates, which ranged between 15 and 30%.
The SRIJ also has the power to ban and block illegal sites, but according to other segments in their laws, this isn’t completely true. On the bright side, the regulated market seems to be doing pretty well as the country made millions in profit in 2017. According to sources the SRIJ also announced early in 2018 that they will be looking at ways to improve their regulated online market. The reason for this was statistics revealing that over two-thirds of the country’s online gamblers were still choosing to play at internationally licensed sites that didn’t have SRIJ approval.
Earlier in 2018 the country also signed a shared online poker liquidity agreement with France and Italy. The governing bodies are also busy reviewing the current legislation and looking to make changes that will decrease “illegal” gambling activities and move players towards taking part in online gambling activities on SRIJ approved sites.
If you’ve been skimming over news headlines you might think that the taxing on gambling activities is a scary topic, especially in Portugal. The country has indeed been declared one of the most expensive for online casino operators.
Luckily there is good news for individuals taking part in online casino gambling. All forms of gambling apart from lotteries are tax-free. Thus, any winnings you make are yours to keep. You are not required to declare them or pay any taxes on them. The only taxable gambling winnings are from the lotteries but taxes are withheld at the source which means any winnings you receive are also free from any additional tax deductions.
The only ones suffering under the heavy taxes in the country are the online casino operators. In fact, the high tax rates of 16 to 30% have resulted in various operators choosing to leave the country. It has been suggested that the country ease up on taxes, but according to the latest news from government officials, this is not part of the current talks on legislation changes.
Before 2015 online gambling was considered a grey area in the Portuguese gambling market. Thankfully new laws were put in place which made online gambling legal.
While most forms of online gambling are legal in Portugal, there are very few government-approved sites available due to the massive taxes on operator revenue.
There are still hundreds of foreign online casinos that have opened their virtual doors to players from the country. Players cannot be punished for playing at unlicensed foreign sites and the operators can’t be prosecuted either. Therefore, you have free range to choose from all online casinos accepting Portuguese players.
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