Portugal's Online Gambling Market Reached Record Highs in the First Quarter of 2019

Jul 03

Portugal - Portugal’s online gambling industry has reached record numbers after it hit its best-ever single-quarter performance during the first quarter of 2019. As for the reason why it’s because players just had a lot more options to choose from.

Portugal’s regulatory body — the Serviço Regulação e Inspeção de Jogos do Turismo de Portugal (SRIJ) — just released figures that indicated profits of €47.3m ($53.4m; £42.4m) for regulated gambling during the first quarter of 2019, which concluded on March 31.

The telling statistic shows a rise of 43.8% from the same period in 2018 and a €4.3m ($4.9m; £3.9m) progress over the final quarter figures in 2018. This was the best quarter for the space since regulation started in May 2016.

10 firms already have licenses to operate in the Portuguese market, which are three more than at the end of the first quarter in 2018. These operators have 16 licenses amongst them. Nine of the licenses are meant for online poker and casino platforms and the other seven are made for sports betting.

The revenue for sports betting during the quarter was €24.8m ($28.0m or £22.3m), a bump up of 42.5% over the same period of time in 2018. The total sports betting handle was up by 30% and reached €131.1m ($148.0m or £117.6m). The most common sport was, of course, football, which had 73% of the total handle. In second was basketball with an 11.5% share, and coming in third was tennis with a 10.1% share.

Online games of chance also saw a rise with an increase of 46%, gaining profits of €22.6m ($25.5m or £20.3m). The turnover for these games was €608.6m ($686.8m; £546.1m). Slots comprised 63.5% of the intake for games of chance. Roulette followed with a 14.8% share, and then, blackjack with nearly 8%.

Profit from online poker plunged for the third straight quarter. However, the poker share is projected to increase because 888 Holdings acquired a license to operate in the country back in January. It would be the only online poker operator aside from the famed PokerStars.

With more choices to pick from, the number of Portuguese residents who signed up in the first quarter increased by a substantial margin. The regulator said that there were an estimated 125,200 new signups during that time, compared to 89,500 the year before.

Of the total customer base, 318,000 accounts made at least one bet during the quarter. About half of the total player base places only sports bets, with about one-third playing only casino games.

More operators are expected to make their way into the market in the next few months, including GML Interactive, which will operate its online casino and sports betting offerings through its Betano brand.