- Total online gaming revenue for 2018 reached €152.1m
- Sports betting was biggest earner at €78.9m
- World Cup soccer tournament had notable impact
- Regulator has recorded statistics on problem gamblers and illegal operators
The Portuguese gambling regulator, Serviço Regulação e Inspeção de Jogos do Turismo de Portugal (SRIJ), has issued its statistics for online gambling for 2018. Revenues were up 24% across the board for all types of gaming, to €152.1m ($172.4m).
2018 was only the second full year of regulation, following the launch in May 2016 of a regulated online gambling sector. Revenues are taxed at a flat rate of 25%.
The FIFA World Cup had a notable impact on revenues, but in fact it was the last quarter of 2018 that enjoyed the biggest spike in overall revenues, up to €43m ($48.7m) compared with €36.5m ($41.4m) for the same period in 2017.
The World Cup effect
The 2018 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament, held in Russia from June 14 to July 15, saw spending on gambling rise. Unsurprisingly, there was a spike in sports wagering on the various matches.
Sports betting was the biggest revenue earner for gambling operators, at €78.9m ($89.4m) in 2018, up from €68.1m ($77.2m) in 2017. During the World Cup window, sports betting accounted for revenue of €20.5m ($23.2m) and 74.4% of all sports bets were on the soccer matches.
Despite that healthy figure, sports betting in the fourth quarter was even higher. A total of €110.6m ($125.4m) was wagered on sports, generating revenues of €21.6m ($24.5m) in that final quarter. Revenues for the second and third quarters, by comparison, were unexpectedly lower, at €89.8m ($101.8m) and €90.1m ($10.3m).
Total betting spend on sports for 2018 amounted to €391.8m ($444.2m).
Online casinos revenues up a third
Revenues from online casino games reached €73.3m ($83.1m) in 2018, up an astonishing 34% over 2017, when revenues were €54.4m ($61.7m). As with sports betting, the fourth quarter also turned out to be the most lucrative, with total stakes of €576.4m ($653.6m) and revenues of €21.5m ($24.3m).
In the fourth quarter, slots were most popular, accounting for 61.6% of customer spend. Roulette accounted for just 14% and poker only 10.6%. Blackjack had an 8.5% share of the market and tournament poker a 5.3% share.
The regulator has also released some statistics on the more troublesome aspects of the gambling sector.
Self-exclusion is being recorded. It was 2.7% in 2018, or 31,500 players. This is a worryingly high percentage for a very new market. The UK reported an estimated figure of 5.1% for 2018, but the gambling sector is long-established there.
The SRIJ also reported that it had warned a total of 338 online illegal gambling platforms to desist in Portugal in 2018. Of these, 270 platforms had continued to operate and the SRIJ subsequently instructed internet service providers to block them.
Licensing in 2018
In 2018, 15 online gambling platforms had licenses. Eight of these are licensed to provide casino games of all kinds, including poker. PokerStars had the only license in 2018 to offer online poker. The other seven operators are licensed to offer sports betting.