Portugal is a nation that harbors a great passion for sports, which are indeed an inseparable part of its citizens’ culture. In fact, the list of sports Portuguese are enthusiastic about is beyond extensive. Some of the most widespread sports in Portugal include soccer, golf, cycling, tennis, and rink hockey. 3
Then again, professional competitions on basketball, handball, futsal and volleyball are held on regular basis. As Portugal is located in South-western Europe and its residents thrive in a predominantly warm climate, sports like triathlon and surfing enjoy a huge popularity.
Sports and betting go hand in hand and in this respect the Portuguese are not an exception to the rule. The country’s residents are quite enthusiastic about backing their national football team by placing bets in its favor. Wagering on events from Portugal’s domestic leagues is also quite common among punters from this nationality. Bets on sports like tennis, Formula 1, basketball, golf and futsal are very widespread, too.
The advent of online betting brought about considerable changes in the industry. The Portuguese, too, enjoy wagering from the comfort of their homes as this practice comes with a number of advantages. The odds, offered by web-based betting operators, in most cases are much better, not to mention there is a greater diversity as far as markets and sports events are concerned.
Find the best Portuguese bookmakers here
Some websites even function as “betting exchanges”, allowing punters to set and sell their own odds, thus assuming the role of bookmakers. Useful features like In-Play and Mobile betting, Live Score and Live Streaming can further tip the scales in punters’ favor. And last but not least, the greatest benefit of online betting is the convenience and flexibility it offers.
But is online betting legal in Portugal? This undoubtedly is an important question to ask. For quite some time Portuguese legislation in regard to sports betting has been rather confusing to both punters from the country and online sportsbooks. Sports betting in Portugal has been considered illegal for some time. Macau was once a Portuguese colony, where betting on the outcome of sports events was strictly prohibited for decades. Today, Macau is a Chinese administrative region as well as one of the greatest gambling jurisdictions on the planet.
On the other hand, the sports betting industry in Portugal remained monopolized for quite some time. Generally, gambling activities are subdivided into three categories – raffles, sports betting and casino games and lotteries. All of these, with the exception of raffles, had been monopolized for decades. It all started over 50 years ago, in 1961, when the Santa Casa de Misericordia de Lisboa (or shortly SCML) was granted the right to run and regulate all wagers placed on sports events. As the SCML is a charity foundation, all profits it had generated from betting were used to help children and elderly citizens of Lisbon.
One short year ago things took a turn for the better. Certain steps have been made to liberalize and expand the sports betting market in the country. You can read more detailed information on gambling legislation in Portugal in the next section.
Relevant Legislative Framework
With the increasing popularity of online sports betting, Portuguese authorities were forced to make some necessary changes to expand this important market. Until recently, only parimutuel bets were allowed in the country. Pools were and still are the most popular alternative for many sports fans. This form of betting involves collecting wagers which are all made in a similar way and then punters’ winnings are paid out after a commission called “a vig” is deducted. As pool betting does not involve any odds, it is safe to say no fixed odds bets were allowed in Portugal. Portuguese punters were permitted to pick from two types of games only – Totoloto and Loto2. At the turn of the new century, the SCML was granted a license by Portuguese authorities to operate online. International web-based bookmakers were prohibited from offering their services to residents of the country. The IP addresses of foreign betting providers were blocked to prevent Portuguese punters from accessing such websites. Nevertheless, these measures didn’t prove to be very effective.
However, the European Union imposed a considerable pressure on Portugal and insisted on the country liberalizing its gambling legislation. One of the main incentives was to make it possible for Portugal to pay out its national debt by generating more substantial revenues from the gambling sector. In 2013, Portugal had no other option but to commence regulating the online betting market. This was inevitable, especially if you consider the fact three major institutions, namely the EU Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank, insisted on changes to be made in Portugal’s policy in regard to sports betting. It is believed such changes would help the country pay back its bailout.
In July, 2014, the country’s authorities agreed to enforce these changes and issue licenses to international bookmakers so that they can legally operate on the territory of Portugal. It’s important to mention foreign betting operators have usually obtained licenses from the jurisdictions they are regulated by. However, such licenses are not transferable and the sportsbooks are still expected to receive a license from Portuguese regulatory bodies, if they wish to operate legally in the country.
The Portuguese Legal Regime of Online Sports Betting and Gambling officially came into force on 28 June, 2015. While the “regime” is much more liberal, betting is still strictly regulated by the state. Punters are now allowed to place bets based on fixed odds. Licenses are given only to those bookmakers, which have demonstrated fairness and reliability. Of course, licensees are expected to pay taxes on the gross profits they have generated in the country. More information on taxation and restrictions is to follow in the next section.
As is usually the case, betting providers that have obtained licenses to operate in a given country are expected to pay taxes on their profits. Unfortunately, the percentage demanded by Portugal’s regulatory authorities is considered to be quite high as it ranges between 8% and 16% of the respective bookmaker’s gross profits in the country. Meanwhile, web-based casino and poker operators are required to pay a tax starting at 15%. For established gambling providers, the percentage might reach up to 30% of their gross gaming revenue. As you can imagine, its difficult to pay such a great percentage of one’s revenue and still generate profits. This caused some of the leading names in the betting and gaming industry to depart from the Portuguese market. Many others are expected to follow. Additionally, each approved applicant is supposed to put forward a performance bond, amounting to €500,000 and another one of €100,000 as a guarantee that excise taxes will be paid. Fortunately, punters are not required to pay taxes on their winnings.
Betting providers are expected to submit their applications in Portuguese. Another requirement is to provide information regarding their technical capacity, which basically means each applicant should possess the necessary gaming hardware and software and employ trained, certified and experienced personnel, able to adequately operate the said hardware and software. Each licence is valid for three years and has to be renewed after it expires.
There are more requirements, however. International betting providers are obliged to set up a special domain for Portuguese punters and automatically redirect them to the said domain. The domain for the country is “pt”. And finally, the last condition is that all transactions to and from the bookmaker’s account should be carried out through a reliable banking institution, based in one of the member states of the EU.
Of course, only punters of legal age are permitted to bet online or to engage in other gambling activities. Interestingly, the legal gambling age limit in Portugal is set at 18 years, but this applies to tourists only. Those with Portuguese citizenship can engage in sports betting and other forms of gambling only if they are 21 years old or older.
It is the Tourism Institute of Portugal and its regulatory commissions that inspect and regulate the online sports betting market in the country. While these changes are expected to lead to a market expansion, it’s quite possible the opposite result will be at hand.
Popular Sports to Bet on
Soccer is impossible to omit as it is the team sport, which enjoys a mind-blowing popularity in Portugal. Most of the country’s residents share a common passion for this ball game which is not surprising as the sport has a long and rich history in this region. It was introduced in the second half of the 19th century, when Guilherme Pinto Basto brought the first soccer ball from Great Britain. In 1889, the first ever soccer game in the country took place and the rest, as the saying goes, is history.
Most bets are placed on soccer events. The country’s presence in international soccer remains strong to this day – Portugal boasts several of the best teams in Europe. Some of the names worth mentioning include Boavista (which is the oldest soccer club in Portugal), Benfica and Porto. Meanwhile, their national team ranks high in international championships every year. For instance, in 2010, Portugal was ranked third (out of 207 countries) by FIFA. Furthermore, some of the most talented soccer players are born and raised in Portugal – Christiano Ronaldo, Ricardo Quaresma and Simão Sabrosa, to name just a few. However, wagering on foreign leagues is also common as bets are often placed on events from the English Premier League, Serie A, La Liga and UEFA’s Champions league. The variety of betting options for football is quite staggering.
Another popular sport in Portugal is futsal, which is a soccer variation played by five players in an indoor venue. Portuguese citizens take a great deal of pride in their professional futsal league, called 1ª Divisão. Of course, one of the best ways to back your favorite futsal team is to place your bet in its favor. Fortunately, a great number of web-based bookmakers list this game among their betting options.
Rink hockey also enjoys a great popularity in this country, a fact which can be attributed to Portugal’s successful rink hockey team. This is the country with most world titles for this sport as its national team has won 15 world championships and 20 European ones.
The country’s basketball league is among the best in Europe. That is why Portuguese punters frequently place bets on their most prominent basketball teams such as S.L. Benfica, Carnide, Porto and Sporting Clube de Portugal.
Handball might seem like a less prominent sport on a global scale, but this is not so in Portugal. In later years especially, this interesting sport has been attracting an ever-growing audience, while handball games are frequently broadcasted live on television. Portugal’s presence in international handball competitions is extremely strong. That is why punters in this country often bet on events from Liga Portuguesa de Andebol or the LPA. Most established bookmakers accept wagers on this team sport.
As far as racing goes, the Portuguese are particularly fond of equestrian sports like horse racing. Greyhounds racing is not as popular, while rallying and motor racing are more widespread. Other popular sports to wager on include tennis, motor racing, golf and volleyball.
Many web-based bookmakers redirect Portuguese punters to their “pt” domains and are more than willing to provide their services to residents of the country. Plenty of payment options are available for bettors from Portugal, so they won’t struggle for long before they find one that suits their needs and bankroll size.
In some cases customer support is offered in Portuguese. Portugal is a member state of the EU and as such, has adopted the Euro as its currency. It won’t be far-stretched to say 99% of the web-based bookmakers accept this currency. Here’s a list of five bookmakers suitable for Portuguese punters.
William Hill is a UK-based betting provider which is among the leaders in this industry. Its popularity among punters of all nationalities is well-deserved as this brand name has become synonymous with reliability, fairness and tradition in sports betting. The company was founded in 1934 but has come a long way since then. Today, William Hill offers a number of appealing promotions, a plethora of sports markets and events and great odds. Interesting and helpful features such as Live betting, In-Play Schedule and Live Streaming are available, too.
The sportsbook comprises of about 30 sports, the most popular of which are basketball, soccer, tennis, golf, baseball, hockey, horse and greyhounds racing. Portuguese punters will be delighted to find some of their favorite options at William Hill’s website. Volleyball, handball, motor racing and cycling are also on offer. Apart from markets diversity, William Hill is known for its large wagering limits, which is good news for high-rollers. Bets can be placed on the go, the only requirement is to load the site from your portable device’s browser.
This bookmaker is completely legitimate and has the right to offer its services to customers from Portugal. Bettors from the country will be automatically redirected to the “pt” domain. What is more, the website is available in Portuguese, which is great news for residents of the country who are not fluent in English. One of the currencies William Hill accepts is the Euro.
888Sport rates exceptionally high among punters from different countries and nationalities. There is a good reason for this – the popular web-based bookmaker is completely secure, offers amazing bonus deals and gives bettors the opportunity to choose from thousands of markets of events from all around the world. The website is available in a mobile format, but a free downloadable app is offered as well. The latter is compatible with iOS and Android-based devices. Another way to download the app is by requesting a download link via email or text message.
This sportsbook accepts punters from a variety of countries so Portuguese are also welcome to join in and register at the website. They can even set the language preferences to Portuguese, which further adds to their convenience.
Live betting markets are available on a great array of sports – tennis, soccer, basketball, cricket, golf, hockey and snooker. If betting on races is more to your liking, you can choose between horse and greyhounds racing. Apart from betting on the races, punters are able to watch a live stream from some of the most prestigious tracks in the UK – Leicester, Chelmsford and Catterick. Streaming from the Vaal track in South Africa is also available.
The website features useful information such as statistics and games’ results, but news and handy betting tips are published regularly, as well.
Pinnacle is yet another established sportsbook that enjoys immaculate reputation among punters throughout the world. The bookmaker is frequently lauded for its great odds and versatility of markets and sports events. All major sports leagues in the world are decently covered by Pinnacle. These include ATP, NFL, NHL, PGA and NBA to mention just a few. Events from important soccer championships receive a sufficient coverage, but more importantly the Portuguese Primeira Liga and Liga de Honra are present on the list. Punters from Portugal can wager on handball, too, as both the Women and Men Handball Champions leagues are available. In-Play, arbitrage and mobile betting are also possible.
That being said, Portuguese punters can rest assured they are welcome to join the sportsbook. Portuguese is one of the available languages and the website uses the “pt” domain for customers from this country. In addition, the Euro is among the currencies listed. Numerous secure and convenient payment methods are on offer. The most suitable options for bettors from Portugal are credit/debit cards by Mastercard and Visa and e-wallets like those provided by Neteller and Skrill.
Unibet is considered to be one of the largest web-based sportsbooks in Europe. This bookmaker is legal, fair and transparent as it operates under a license issued by the Maltese Gaming Authority. Its reputation is further cemented by the fact Unibet has over 10 million registered customers from 100 countries throughout the world. Portugal is one of the territories where Unibet offers its services. Punters from this location can click on the drop-down language menu and select their native language.
Betting at this bookmaker comes with a number of advantages. The website features In-Play betting, Live Streaming, Live Calendar, Live Score and Statistics sections. Some of the most popular betting options include soccer, basketball, golf, cricket, tennis, American football, horse racing and ice hockey. Portuguese punters can bet on their favorite sports like futsal, handball and volleyball.
Last but definitely not least, one bookmaker that is worth mentioning is Bet365, one of the leaders in the sports betting industry. The benefits of betting at this website are numerous and range from quick payouts and generous bonuses to sports events diversity and competitive odds.
In addition, bet365 is a secure, trustworthy and respected brand name. The bookmaker’s gambling operations are licensed and regulated by the Gambling Commission of Gibraltar. It, too, employs a “pt” domain and welcomes punters from Portugal. The website is available in Portuguese. Customers can rely on bet365’s friendly support team that is at their disposal 24 hours a day. The customer support service is timely and adequate, not to mention, it is available in several languages.
As far as sports events are concerned, there are over 30 options to be found at the website. Some of the most popular ones include soccer, basketball, tennis, golf, baseball, horse and greyhounds racing. Bet365 offers a variety of interesting features such as Live and Mobile betting, bonuses on parlays and Live Streaming. Odds are available in three formats – American, decimal and fractional.