Portugal’s Online Gambling Sector Sets New Revenue Record in Q1

  • Online casino revenue overtakes land for the first time, mainly due to COVID-19 closures
  • 25.8% increase in the number of people gambling online in Portugal 
  • However, the self-excluded figure for Q1 also increased by 47.1%
  • The Portuguese government earned €20.8m ($22.8m) in tax revenue
man holding Q1 text on business card
Portugal’s licensed online gambling operators enjoyed record growth during the first quarter of the year, with revenue increasing by 47.5% compared to last year. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

First time online has overtaken land

Portugal set a new revenue record the first quarter of 2020 despite land-based casinos closing in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s the first time online gambling has outpaced land-based casinos in the country.

The figures, released this week by regulatory body Serviço Regulação e Inspeção de Jogos do Turismo de Portugal (SRIJ), show that revenue for the first three months of the year through March 31 increased by 47.5% compared to the same period last year.

revenue for the first three months of the year through March 31 increased by 47.5%

The €69.8m ($76.5m) Q1 total also beat the previous quarter, between September and December 2019, by an additional €5.4m ($5.9m).  

Turnover helped by sports betting

While online gambling revenue in Portugal has been climbing for a while, one of the most popular areas continues to be sports betting.

The country’s 10 licensed operators reported growth of almost 40% in Q1, with nearly a quarter of bets placed on soccer. The most popular competition was Portugal’s Premier Liga which earned 11.4% of sports wagers. This growth was hindered slightly in March by the shutdown of major sports due to COVID-19.

Online casino was the real revenue winner during this quarter. Figures show that the 12 licensed casinos in Portugal accounted for 56.5% of the revenue total. This amounted to €35.3m ($38.7m), just over half of the total.

Land-based decline

As casinos and slot arcades were ordered to close in March, turnover for land-based casinos dropped steeply from earlier months. Despite revenue hitting €27.5m (30.1m) in January and €25.2m ($27.6m) in February, the total for March was just €9.3m ($10.2m).

As land-based casinos closed their doors, the number of new online players grew 25.8% to 157,400 during the first quarter. The latest figures show that while the number of people playing games online increased, this also led to a high number of self-excluded players, up by 47.1% to 52,100.

There was also a slight decline recorded in the number of gamblers aged between 18 and 24. This figure declined from 29.9% to 23.3%, although the 25-34 age group saw a 5% increase from 33.3% to 38.4%.

Baccarat and slots are favorites

In terms of casino games, there was a big decline in revenue for games such as American roulette, with revenue tumbling by 42% to €2.8m ($3m).

However, there was great success for the game of Baccarat, now the largest source of revenue for casinos, as it shot up by 52% to earn €3.3m ($3.6m) in revenue. Slots remained the most popular option, taking in 69.8% of stakes.

Q1 increase earned the Portuguese government a total of €20.8m ($22.8m) in taxes

While Portugal’s parliament voted earlier in the month for a bill to introduce restrictions on online gambling, no action has yet to be taken while the country is still in lockdown. These powers could extend to banning online gambling completely.

The Q1 increase earned the Portuguese government a total of €20.8m ($22.8m) in taxes, up 40% on last year.

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