Snapshot: Remote Gambling in Portugal

June 23, 2023 | Government

Remote gambling


Is remote gambling permitted and, if so, what types?

Under the Online Gaming Regime, fixed-odds sports betting, games of fortune and chance, pari-mutuel and fixed-odds horse racing, bingo and poker may be operated online.

The Online Gaming Regime defines ‘remote gambling’ as the operation and practice of the above types of gambling remotely, through electronic, computerised, telematic and interactive support, or by any other means.


What are the criteria for obtaining a licence to operate remote gambling?

As with land-based gambling, the right to operate online games and bets is reserved to the state.

The criteria to award an online licence are based on the type of company, its place of incorporation and its financial and technical capacity.

Only joint-stock companies or similar companies with headquarters in an EU or EEA member state bound by administrative tax and anti-money laundering regulations, which are required to register a branch in Portugal, can apply for a licence.

The applicant must be involved in the operation of games and wagering. Companies licensed for those activities in other European countries must obtain a licence to operate in Portugal.

To obtain a licence, the applicants must:

  • regularise their taxes in Portugal or in the state where they have their headquarters;
  • be suitable, with technical, financial and economic capacity; and
  • submit an outline of the game’s technical systems that follows best practices in terms of software and technology design, including the elements listed in article 13 of the Online Gaming Regime.

In relation to suitability, the Regime states that entities declared bankrupt by a court, entities that are already in a process of liquidation and entities under special regimes of recovery or revival are not suitable. The same applies to entities that are prohibited from taking part in commerce.

With regard to crimes or administrative infringements, entities that have committed two serious administrative infringements under the Online Gaming Regime may be considered unsuitable.

Entities that have been sentenced for any of the crimes listed in article 14 of the Online Gaming Regime are not suitable. The crimes include:

  • fraud, including computer fraud;
  • intentional bankruptcy;
  • the promotion, organisation or illegal operation of games of fortune and chance or social state games (including the violation of exclusives granted by the state);
  • corruption; and
  • money laundering.

Adequate technical capacity is achieved by having an appropriate and certified workforce with experience in the different types of technology used by the technical system of the game.

Adequate financial and economic capacity is indicated by financial autonomy, which is calculated by the previous financial year’s balance: own funds divided by net assets, multiplied by 100, with a minimum ratio of 35 per cent.

How do the licensing criteria for remote gambling operators differ from those applicable to land-based operators?

Unlike the restrictions on gaming zones and the number of casinos that exist for land-based operators, there is no maximum number of available licences, and any entity that fulfils the licensing criteria may obtain a licence.

As at April 2023, there are 11 licences for fixed-odds online sports betting and 14 licences for games of fortune and chance (some with a single games licence (eg, poker) or single type (eg, slot games) and others with an authorisation to have more than one game or type).

Cross-border gambling

May operators located in other countries offer internet gambling to consumers in your jurisdiction without obtaining a licence there?

It is not possible for operators located in other countries to offer internet gambling to consumers located in Portugal without obtaining a licence. The Gambling Inspection and Regulation Service has the power to block illegal websites.

May operators licensed in your jurisdiction offer internet gambling to consumers in other countries?

There is no such restriction in Portugal. However, if the operators licensed in Portugal offer internet gambling to consumers outside the country, they may be breaching the laws of those countries, which may jeopardise their licences in Portugal. There are, however, Portuguese licence holders that also hold licences in Malta and Curaçao.


What tax rate applies to each form of remote gambling?

There is a special online gaming tax that is levied differently based on the type of gambling, as follows:

  • games of fortune and chance: special gaming tax of 25 per cent on the gross gaming revenue (GGR);
  • fixed-odds sports betting and horse racing: 8 per cent on the handle;
  • pari-mutuel horse racing: 25 per cent on the GGR;
  • non-banked games (eg, poker tournaments and bingo): 25 per cent on the vigorish; and
  • fixed-odds sports betting and fixed-odds or pari-mutuel horse racing when players play against each other (betting exchange): 35 per cent on the vigorish.

By:  Pedro Cortés

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SOURCES: Rato, Ling, Lei & Cortés AdvogadosLexology.