It may come as somewhat of a surprise for many who ardently follow the daily news and events surrounding the online gambling (iGaming) industry, to learn that Portugal (of all places) is now one of the countries to watch in 2018. This is based on recent reports which have indicated strong growth within the Portuguese iGaming sector towards the end of 2017.
Not Your Usual Suspect
When asked to consider or name the most popular countries for online casino gambling or sports betting, most of us would go with the obvious like Canada, the UK, USA, most of Scandinavia, Hong Kong, Macau, and even Australia. For most, Portugal would not be on that list and certainly not in the top half either. But, as someone great once said, life is full of surprises, so let’s take a closer look at how Portugal managed to grow in iGaming while many other countries and markets floundered.
Portugal’s iGaming Facts and Figures
According to the ServiçoRegulação e Inspeção de Jogos do Turismo de Portugal or SRIJ for short, reported that online gaming revenue had increased by as much as 18% in the third quarter of 2017. This is a significant positive year on year increase amounting to around €16.4m. The three month period leading up to March of that same year totalled €33.8m or roughly US$40.4m, an increase of around €2.5m over the same period the year before (2016). However, this figure did dip again and was actually down by €2.7m in the final quarter compared to the same period the year before.
The Games People Play
One of the most significant contributing factors to the positive growth in the Portuguese iGaming industry was a sharp spike in online sports betting. Portugal is historically-speaking, a football (soccer) nation, and the ‘beautiful game’ was responsible for more than three-quarters of the total revenue generated by online sports betting in Portugal for 2017. Of course, other popular sports were represented as well, with basketball contributing around 10.7% and tennis rounding things up with a contribution of approximately 9.5%.
All in all, sports betting recorded a 16.6% rise or around US$21 million in the third quarter when compared to the second quarter of that same year (2017). The SRIJ attributes this mainly to soccer season kicking off, which amounted to around 78% of the total sports betting contribution to overall Portuguese iGaming revenues generated.
Moving away from the sports betting sector and onto the online casino sector, the biggest earner for Portuguese iGaming revenue was the slots. This should come as no surprise to anyone since online slots are still considered by many experts to be the most popular casino game, not only in Portugal but all over the world in general. For instance, during the same three month period used to measure the increase in iGaming revenue, online slots contributed a whopping 42% to that total. Looking at the full picture (year to date), out of the total iGaming revenue generated in Portugal which amounted to around US$101 million, sports betting contributed around US$56.2 million, while online casino revenue generated around US$45.2 million.