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Portugal’s casino market grows despite digital competition

Published on 21/01/2019

Portugal’s land-based casino sector recorded a growth in 2018, recently released revenue stats show, despite intensifying competition from online gambling and lottery products, writes Casino News Daily.

The country’s land-based casinos generated overall revenue of €318 million last year, a figure representing a 3.1% increase from 2017. Growing demand for slot machine games at the facilities drove the growth in the land-based casino space, it was reported. Portugal’s slot machine revenue totaled €263.9 million in 2018, up 3.4% from the previous year.

Estoril-Sol, an operator of land-based casinos and gambling websites, claimed the largest share in the local casino gambling market. The company manages casinos in Estoril, Lisbon, and Póvoa de Varzim. Its properties generated a total of €196.8 million in revenue last year, up 2.4% from 2017.

Estoril-Sol’s operations in Estoril saw a 0.5% increase in annual revenue to €64 million. Its casino in Lisbon generated €86.7 million, up 3.4% year-on-year, while its Póvoa de Varzim operation reported revenue of €45.9 million, up 3% year-on-year. Estoril-Sol is the Portuguese arm of companies majority owned by subsidiaries of Macau casino tycoon Stanley Ho.

The Solverde group, another major operator of land-based casinos, reported overall revenue of €93.6 million last year, up nearly 5% year-on-year. The company runs properties in Espinho, Algarve, and Espinho.

The Pestana casino group was the only license holder that recorded a revenue decline last year. The company’s Pestana Casino Park in Funchal Madeira collected revenue of €8.4 million, down 3.1% year-on-year.

Commenting on the performance of the Portuguese land-based casino market, Solverde President Manuel Violas has told local news outlets that 2018 was “a reasonable year” for the industry. However, he pointed out that competition from the digital sector as well as from instant lotteries and traditional lottery products has grown last year.

Portugal re-regulated its digital gambling space a few years ago and issued first online gambling licenses in 2016. According to information from the local regulator, Serviço de Regulação Inspeção de Jogos, the country’s online gambling market was worth €108.7 million in terms of revenue generated during the first three quarters of 2018. Fourth-quarter results are yet to be released by the regulatory body.

Operators holding licenses from SRIJ are allowed to provide sports betting and online casino games, including online poker. According to the regulator’s latest report, revenue from sports betting totaled €57.3 million in the first three quarters of 2018. Revenue from online casino games amounted to €51.4 million during the nine months ended September 30, 2018. That figure included revenue from online poker. PokerStars is currently the only licensed provider of online poker in the country, although several other operators have expressed interest in entering the space.