Following after several other European countries, Portugal is considering opening up its online gambling market. At the moment the Santa Casa de Misericordia de Lisboa has the monopoly of legal internet gambling in the country. The Portuguese government has thought of regulating the online gambling market for some time now and could, according to a report released two years ago, gain up to 250 million euros in revenue from this open market even in its first year of operation.
The government is to set up a committee to look into the regulation of online gambling and now hopes to have an open regulated gambling market in place by next year. Portugal is one of many European countries to be so badly affected by the world wide economic down turn that it required a bail out by the European Central Bank in 2011. This injection of money amounting to 78 billion euros, is to dry up in 2014 and so government needs to come up with a different source of revenue. Opening up the online gaming market would bring in much needed tax income in a country where the level of unemployment is very high at between 16 and 17 per cent.
The group set up by the government to study the regulatory systems in other European countries will most likely look into the systems in place in neighbouring France and Spain.There is concern however that the Portuguese authorities may not learn from the errors made in both Spain and France concerning the licensing of interested operators and the tax levels to be put in place. The online casino markets in both Spain and France are in difficulty due to a relatively high level of taxation. Due to the tax on gross casino income in Spain, some major internet casino companies have pulled out of the country and to a certain degree the same has happened in France.
In order to avoid having only a small group of online casino operators who could afford to cope with losses due to high taxation, it has been advised that the Portuguese should have a lower tax level and this tax should be on the casino’s net income. However it is not clear yet whether the government will press ahead with the proposed taxation at 20 to 25 per cent , which is similar to that in other countries.