The Portuguese Council of Ministers has announced that it has approved the text of a draft bill which would liberalize its online gaming market.
A few days ago, the government reserved time in the parliamentary calendar for a debate on the proposals before the end of the current legislative session.
Secretary of State for Tourism Adolfo Mesquita Nunes gave some details of the provisions of the bill to journalists after the meeting on Thursday.
The Council has chosen “an open model,” said the Minister, in which foreign operators will be allowed to apply for licenses if they “meet the requirements, and are in good financial standing in their finances and social security.”
The taxation system will be similar to that for existing land based gambling operations, which means it will be based on gross gaming revenues but with differential rates by gaming activity and revenue amounts.
The gaming tax (IEJo) on games of chance—that would appear to include online poker—would range from 15% to 30%. Sports betting will attract a rate of 37.5%.
Tax revenues will be distributed as at present between the central government, and regional governments and be used to “encourage sport and for cultural development.”
The only licensed online operator and current gaming regulator, the Santa Casa da Misericordia de Lisboa (SCML), will have exclusive rights over social gaming, but the Tourism Ministry will act as the regulator for the new laws and licensees.
The Minister expressed the hope that the law could be passed before the end of the year, but this sounds optimistic given the need to obtain advance approval of the proposals from the EU Commission—a process which usually takes at least three months.