The home of Luis Figo, Eusébio, and the immaculate, trophy magnet global superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, it’s easy to see why Portugal is mad for football. As is the case in similarly gifted nations, the love of football has also created a thriving futsal scene, with there now being two incredibly popular forms of the sport in full flow across the country.
Several other sports have made their way into the Portuguese mainstream, but none of them can stand the popularity of the forms of football. Even so, the bustling obsession with sports made the country prime real-estate for sports betting operators. After all, the country is known for its coastal casinos and is indirectly tied to gambling through its former colony, Macau, becoming the world’s gambling mecca.
There have been some recent disruptions to what an incredibly free-flowing Portuguese online betting market would usually be, so this page aims to clear up any doubts and help you out should you wish to bet.
Portugal’s standing online betting regulations
Betting isn’t anything new to Portugal, with the Santa Casa de Misericordia de Lisboa (SCML) operating pooled betting set-ups across the country. However, it wasn’t until 2003 that that new legislation expanded the role of the SCML to adjust to all of the new betting opportunities introduced by the internet. The early 00s move didn’t liberalise the industry, though, with the SCML being given an exclusive licence to operate online.
For the ensuing decade, several increasingly popular online betting brands offered their services to Portugal regardless of the instated monopoly. It wasn’t done covertly, either, with betting platforms seeking entry through the Portuguese court system, and continuing to offer to the market after being dismissed by the courts regardless.
In 2015, Portugal introduced the Regime Juridico dos Jogos e Apostas Online, establishing a licensing and regulatory system to expand the nation’s online gambling scene. Since then, operators from around the world have been welcomed to apply for licences to offer fixed-odds gambling sites, with the Serviço de Regulação Inspeção de Jogos do Turismo de Portugal now running the show.
Disruption through taxation to Portuguese betting
As can be expected from a nation of around 10 million people with an avid affinity for sports and sporting culture, online betting was doing well in Portugal. For half a decade after opening up, betting sites were taxed at a favourable, but not overly lenient, rate of 15 per cent. However, last year that changed substantially with the government introducing Decree-Law No. 66/2015 to amend elements of the online gambling laws.
The largest impact that this 2020-introduced law had was in regard to taxation. Portuguese lawmakers saw it fit to offer different taxation rules for each of the different gambling activities. Online platforms saw their tax rate and method of calculating tax alter. Now, as the 2020 changes still stand, online fixed-odds sports betting platforms have their turnover taxed up to 35 per cent. This didn’t bode well with many operators.
Despite this, there are still many operators who offer their services in Portugal and thrive, with some of the bigger names in the industry stepping away from the market. Of course, as is always the case, some platforms that pulled away from Portuguese regulation still offer their sports betting sites to the country, often earning trust from local bettors by being licensed and regulated by other European bodies, such as the UKGC or MGA.
How Portuguese bettors move money to and from their betting accounts
There are several well-established and trusted payment methods available across Portugal, but by far the most popular for online payments is still by card. Debit cards the pick of the two, with credit cards losing trust in the online space for concerns of fraud. Between the two, though, card payments make up a good 40 percent of the online payments market in Portugal. Next in line are eWallets, which are the fastest-growing method. Even so, eWallets only account for around ten per cent of transactions on eCommerce sites, with bank transfers just behind.
Overall, eCommerce payment method trends also translate into the online betting scene. There are several payment options available for the top betting sites in Portugal, with the credit and debit card options being the most flexible and preferred overall. The eWallet Skrill has also been growing in popularity, primarily because the majority of the recommended betting sites offer it as their main digital payments option. Then, of course, there’s Multibanco: the network of Portuguese banks that facilitate online payments. It’s become a secure and trusted option for online bettors, especially when it comes to using overseas platforms.
Portugal’s most popular sports to bet on
It’s the most popular sport in the world and in Portugal, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that football is the most popular sport to bet on in the world and in Portugal. The market is so big for football betting that just about every legitimate betting site offers a huge array of odds, from Liga NOS to the J-League, anytime goalscorers to the number of corners. If it can happen in football, it can be bet on online.
While not quite as deep in its betting options, futsal continues to be a major draw for Portuguese bettors. With the national team being among the best in the world and the extensive national and European competition structure, there’s plenty to bet on each season. Behind the two football formats, it’s a toss-up between cycling, propelled by the Volta a Portugal, and basketball.
The Portuguese online betting scene may have changed behind the scenes recently, but there’s still a huge range of popular markets to bet on each week.