Member Login    

Betting in Portugal

Published on: 07/02/2016

In principle, Portuguese gambling laws do not permit games of chance. However, in the country’s former colony of Macau, Portuguese regulations allowed all sorts of gambling activity such as dog racing, Jai Jai and table games to take place for many years.

The Portuguese government are of the opinion that such gambling legalities must be based upon what they decide is appropriate for each system. As a result, there are statutes in place that allow state-controlled or private operations to take place under certain conditions. In summary, the question of whether gambling is legal or illegal lies with the impulse of the Portuguese government. However, this does cause a lot of confusion, and makes it very difficult for gambling companies to attract Portuguese players. In principle, they would be able to obtain licenses upon request and under certain terms.

Portuguese gambling laws basically covers three types of betting activity: casino games, raffles and lotteries - including lotto’s and sportbooks. All formats work under different regulations, which are dependent on how much or how little revenue they generate for the country’s economy. The bottom line is that all gambling in Portugal is run as a monopoly.

The Games Department of Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa (SCML) has gained the exclusive rights to all sports betting in Portugal. There is one regulated lottery available, known as the Loteria Nacional.

Allowances have been given through an authorative agreement for the construction of casinos; specifically one each in 11 permitted areas - a contract that basically stifles any competition.

Loto2 and Totoloto are just two of the gambling games provided by SCML - there are thousands of licensed venues selling tickets on behalf of the company. The first lottery shop in Portugal was built in 1840 and is known as CAMPIAO. It is the most popular outlet for ticket purchases. In Portugal fixed-odds betting is not permitted anywhere.

In 2005, an online gambling company (BWIN Entertainment) tried to broker a sponsorship deal with the Portuguese Football League. Court proceedings took place, followed by an appeal, but the outcome was not good for Bwin, as they were completely banned from any activity within Portugal.

However, BWIN carried on offering a Portuguese variation of its internet sportsbook. In response, the Portuguese officials placed a complete block on all off-shore gambling web sites. In addition, all Portuguese ISPs were blocked to stop citizens from frequenting foreign online gambling sites. No licences for internet betting, whether local or off-shore have been issued since.

As many other countries have found, barring foreign internet sportsbooks does not deter citizens from gaining access to them. Studies suggest that over 470 online sportsbooks using the English language provide betting options to Portuguese punters with local addresses. Another 27, including Unibet, Bet365 and Ladbrokes, welcome play and offer information using the Portuguese language.

Visa Credit and MasterCard are both affiliated with many betting web sites are happy to except transactions from Portugal. Many eWallets such as Moneybookers and NETeller, also offer payment options to Portuguese players.