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Portuguese Online Gaming

In February 2015, Portugal's Council of Ministers passed a bill to regulate the country's online gaming market. The government planned to license and tax a broad spectrum of online gaming products, including casino games, sports betting, poker and race wagering. The bill was signed by the President in April 2015.

The new regime taxes online casino and poker sites at 15% of gross gaming revenue if an operator's annual income is less than EUR 5 million. The rates increase by 3% for every additional EUR 1 million, capping at 30%. There is also a variable tax rate on sports betting turnover between 8% and 16%.

Portugal's online gambling market officially launched on 28 June 2015, but because of the tax rate increase, major operators such as William Hill, Amaya and PDR pulled out of the market once the new tax regime took effect.

Before this bill, Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa (SCML), Portugal's national lottery, was the only entity allowed to offer its lottery products, including sports betting, to the public via the internet under a 2003 decree. All other domestic and foreign operators were restricted from offering their services. The government had previously ordered Portuguese ISPs to block traffic from major foreign gambling sites. The ban was difficult to enforce, however, and many online gaming sites have offered their services in the Portuguese language.

Between 2005 and 2008, online betting operator bwin had a sponsorship deal with the Portuguese football league, and the first division was rebranded "bwin LIGA." Portuguese authorities fined bwin and the football league for infringing on the 2003 decree. The matter was taken to court in Portugal, and the issue was referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to determine if it conformed to European Commission law. The ECJ ruled that EU member states can restrict services from businesses from other member states with the aim of protecting consumers from fraud and crime.
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