Portugal has issued the first online casino license under its new regulated online gambling market.
On Monday, local gaming regulator Servi?o Regula??o e Inspe??o de Jogos do Turismo de Portugal (SRIJ) announced that it had issued an online games of chance license to Estoril Sol Digital Online Gaming and Products Services, SA to operate using the domain Estroilsolcasinos.pt.
Estoril Sol operates three land-based casinos – Casino Estoril, Casino Lisbon and Casino da Povoa – which reported revenue of €182m in 2015, more than two-thirds of the total casino market value. Estoril’s chairman is Macau casino icon Stanley Ho, who founded the SJM Holdings casino business.
Estoril’s new site, which has already gone live, is licensed to offer blackjack, roulette and slots. Estoril’s online platform is powered by Brussels-based provider Gaming1.
Estoril’s online launch brings Portugal’s tally of licensed online operators to three, following the launch in May of French operator Betclic Everest’s sports betting site Betclic.pt, which was followed earlier this month by Malta-based Bet Entertainment Technologies Ltd’s online sportsbook.
Estoril may be late to the party but it may be first to post an online profit. Casino sites are taxed at 15% of gross gaming revenue while sports betting sites must pay 8% tax on betting turnover, an already prohibitive rate that increases incrementally once turnover tops €30m.
Other operators that have expressed interest in launching online casino sites include brick-and-mortar casino operator Solverde and state lottery operator Santa Casa da Misericordia de Lisboa. But Portugal may not welcome its first licensed online poker operator until November at the earliest due to the government’s delays in seeking European Commission approval for liquidity sharing with other EU member states.