Portugal has set a new online gambling revenue record for the first quarter (Q1) despite all land-based casinos being shut down in March to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This is the first time ever that online gambling revenue has surpassed that of land-based casinos.
According to figures released by the Serviço Regulação e Inspeção de Jogos do Turismo de Portugal (SRIJ), the revenue for the first 3 months of the year ending March 31 have increased by 47.5%. In total, this is a generated revenue of €69.8m, a €5.9 increase from the previous quarter between September and December of 2019.
One of the primary reasons attributed to this notable record set for online gambling is sports betting. The total revenue of online gambling was largely increased by sports wagering which saw most bets predominantly wagered on the Premier Liga (soccer). Naturally, the rise in wagering hit a speed bump towards the end of March as the global COVID-19 pandemic moved into high gear.
The 12 major Portuguese online gambling bookmakers saw a 56.5% increase in revenue to €35.3m, this was a 58% boost from the previous first quarter in 2019. Slots made up about 70% of the total revenue in the first quarter of 2020 which ironically enough did not change much versus the fourth quarter of 2019. Another surprise increase came on the sites’ baccarat tables which pulled in 52% to earn €3.3m.
In terms of the makeup of players on the major online gambling site, sports bettors accounted for 41.2% and casino players 39.4%, while 19.4% were said to have dabbled in both sectors of online gambling. The first quarter also saw a rise in new player accounts for the online bookmakers, topping out at 157,400 new players. This was still a decrease from the previous quarter between September and December but an increase for year-on-year
There have been talks from the Portuguese Parliament to restrict access to the online gambling bookmakers at least partially. However, there has been no concrete movement on this front as of yet, as things still appear to be operating as normal. It appears that the decision to at least potentially do so is based on the Parliament's moral compass, as the increased taxes equated to €20.8m.