Portugal fails to establish regulated online gambling market

In February 2015, Portugal passed legislation allowing online gambling.  The move was made to tap into a growing market that the country hoped would bring in over $30 million in annual revenue.  While the Spanish neighbor is on track to reach that mark, recent reports show that gamblers are still opting to wager through unauthorized entities, due primarily to better odds than with those that have purchased licenses. 

To date, only seven companies have solicited operating licenses in Portugal, far below what the country had anticipated.  These companies pay high fees to the government, and these fees are passed on to local gamblers.  In a recent survey overseen by the Remote Gambling Association (RGA), 68% of those that responded indicated that they primarily used gambling sites that don't hold a license.  38% use internationally-licensed sites and only 30% responded that they spent time on both international sites and on licensed sites. 

The country's regulatory body taxes sports betting turnover, rather than taxing operator revenue.  This pushes gamblers away from local operators, and results in a state-desired channeling rate of under 40%, much lower than the 80-90% it anticipated.  RGA used the findings to show that the regulated market in Portugal is failing to win the battle with the unregulated market, and that the country needs to significantly revamp its regulations.

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