Online powers Portuguese gambling growth in Q1

30 April 2020

Growth in online gambling outpaced a decline in land-based activity in Portugal in the first quarter of 2020, as total revenue grew 8.4% to €131.8m (£114.4m/$143.2m).

Online gambling revenue grew by 47.5% to €69.8m for the three months to 31 March.

This revenue figure was the highest ever for a quarter in Portugal, overtaking the previous quarter’s €65.4m, and also marked the first time that online gambling brought in more revenue than its land-based equivalent.

Slightly over half of this total came from online casino, at €35.3m, which grew 56.5% to overtake the revenue from sports betting, which itself grew 39.2% to €34.5m.

This growth in sports betting revenue came despite a 19.6% decrease in amounts wagered to €149.1m. Just under three quarters of bets (74.7%) were placed on football, with Portugal’s Premeira Liga the most popular competition for betting, earning 11.4% of all sports stakes, or 15.2% of football bets. Basketball followed with 11.1% of bets, with tennis (9.1%) and ice hockey (2.5%) following.

Casino stakes, meanwhile, grew by 12.7% to €960.8m. Slots were by far the most popular online game, accounting for 69.8% of stakes. Roulette followed at 12.6%, while 6.4% was staked on blackjack.

The Portuguese government took in €20.8m in online gambling taxes, up 40.1% year-on-year.

The number of new online players in the quarter increased 25.8% to 157,400. However, the number of self-excluded players also grew, by 47.1% to 52,100.

The number of online players aged 18-24 declined from 29.9% to 23.3%, while the 25-34 age group remained the largest, increasing from 33.3% to 38.4%. The 35-44 demographic moved into second with 23.8% of players, while 10.1% were aged 45-54, 3.2% aged 55-64 and 1.1% aged 65 or older.

Of all Portuguese online gamblers, 41.2% gambled only on sports, 39.4% only on casino and 19.4% on both.

Revenue from land-based casinos and slot arcades fell 17.5% to €62.0m. Of this total, €51.0m came from gaming machines, an 18.3% year-on-year decline. The remaining €11.0m came from land-based casinos, down 12.6%.

Among casino games, American roulette saw the largest decline in revenue, falling 42.1% to €2.8m. Baccarat revenue, on the other hand, grew by 52.1% as the game became the largest source of revenue for Portuguese casinos, bringing in €3.3m.

Blackjack revenue grew by 2.1% to €2.3m while Banca Francesa revenue fell 22.4% to €1.6m.

The shutdown of casinos in Portugal in March, in order to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19,) contributed heavily to the decline in revenue in the land-based sector. After taking in €27.5m in revenue in January and €25.2m in February, Portuguese land-based casinos and slot arcades took in only €9.3m in March.

Earlier this month (8 April), Portugal’s Parliament passed a bill requiring the government introduce some kind of restrictions on online gambling, which could go as far as banning it entirely, while the country remains locked down.