RGA Report Finds 68% of All Gambling Portuguese Gamble on Unregulated Websites

A report commissioned by the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) and compiled by Portuguese consultancy firm Eurogroup Consulting found that 68% of all Portuguese who gamble online have been doing this on unregulated websites since the introduction of the country’s new regulatory regime back in 2015.

The RGA, known to be the largest iGaming and betting trade association that represents some of the world’s largest gambling operators, has been among the most vocal critics of Portugal’s newly established gambling regulatory framework.

The Southern European country liberalized its online gambling market in 2015, allowing international operators to apply for licenses and operate in a regulated environment. The first online gambling licenses were issued in 2016. Portugal’s new gambling laws were heavily criticized by industry stakeholders due to the taxation system implemented, which taxes sports betting operators on percentage of their turnover.

The RGA’s report argues that the new regulatory framework in Portugal has failed to purge the local market from unregulated offering. According to the report’s findings, around 38% of all Portuguese who gamble online have been doing this only on the websites of unlicensed operators, and 30% have been gambling on both unlicensed and licensed websites.

Respondents pointed out that they prefer gambling on unlicensed websites to gambling on licensed ones due to the fact that the former offer better odds. The reports also found that of all bets placed by Portuguese bettors, only 39% were gambled on regulated websites.

The Portuguese Gambling Market’s Lack of Allure

One of the main reasons why the Portuguese regulated iGaming market has become somewhat unattractive is the fact that sports betting operators are taxed on turnover. Most of the other regulated jurisdictions tax licensed operators on gross gambling revenue.

The RGA and other involved parties have been calling for an immediate review of Portugal’s gambling laws, but Portuguese lawmakers have repeatedly pointed out that such a review will take place only two years after the first online gambling license was issued.

The first online gambling license under the country’s new regulatory framework was granted last May, which means that the review will likely be launched in May 2018.

It was announced late last month that changes to the country’s current gambling laws had been proposed and would be discussed next year. Generally speaking, the proposed amendments will allow licensed operators to enter international shared liquidity agreements. Portugal is one of the four countries that participate in the shared online poker liquidity project, but the changes will allow casino and betting operators to also share their pools internationally.

It became known that there will be certain changes in the taxation regime. However, these changes will be concerned with how gambling taxes will be allocated and not with the tax base.

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