COVID-19: Portugal Ready to Limit Online Gambling During Lockdown

  • New bill is set to introduce restrictions on online gambling, details not yet specified
  • Legislation came into effect April 9, government has five working days to implement regulations
  • Expresses urgent need for measures to prevent widespread problem gambling
  • Daily revenue for activity saw 18% year-on-year rise since declaration of national emergency 
protection mask with flag of Portugal imprinted
The Portuguese government is getting ready to impose restrictions on the online gambling sector during the coronavirus lockdown. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Imposing restrictions amid pandemic

The government in Portugal is set to put limits on online gambling activity amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. This comes as a new bill calling for parliament to enact restrictions during the current lockdown gained passage. 

The political party Partido das Pessoas, dos Animais e da Natureza (PAN) introduced the legislation which came into effect on April 9. It does not specify what the restrictions are, but it looks for

partial or total limitations on access to online gambling platforms.”

The Portuguese government has to introduce regulations within the next five working days. Any restrictions will remain in place until the state of emergency in the country comes to an end. 

Preventing a surge in problem gambling

The bill says there is urgent need to bring in measures to stop a widespread online gambling problem from developing – one that could have very harmful effects on the population.

It adds that, in the current situation, people may be more impulsive and

may feel less in control of their behaviour and therefore gamble more, with worsening emotional and financial consequences.”

Portugal declared a state of emergency over the COVID-19 pandemic on March 18. Since then, daily revenue for online gambling has risen by 18% year-on-year.

Portuguese media report that the Socialist Party that is in power was supportive of the bill. The Unitary Democratic Coalition, Left Bloc, Livre, and Liberal Initiative parties were also in favor. The main party in opposition to the government, the Social Democrats, were against the motion, as were Chega and the CDS People’s Party.

Using neighbors as an example

The legislative measure particularly mentions protecting consumers who are most vulnerable, namely minors. It references Spain as a nation that has already introduced gambling sector limitations during the lockdown.

Spain is closely monitoring all advertising content. Gambling companies can only broadcast audiovisual communication from 1am until 5am. All operators are forbidden from implying that gambling can help eliminate boredom and from mentioning the pandemic in any capacity.