888 Exits from PortugalPublished July 10, 2015 by Lee R
New regulation must be fair to all iGaming competitors in order to reap profits.
The previously monopolized Portugal market has not been freed sufficiently for 888Casino, leading to the iGaming giant's departure.
The withdrawal is in final response to the new law signed in late April by Portuguese President Anibal Antonio Cavaco. The reforms opening the market for licensees are hoped to provide the cash-strapped government with €25 million.
The government gambling monopoly of Santa Casa da Misericordia has been released, ending a recent history of constriction for I-gamers in Portugal. The strictness in Portugal was last on display in 2005 when Bwin's attempt to sponsor the Portuguese football league was blocked by the government and then upheld appeal. Further attempts by Bwin to offer a Portuguese version of its website were rebuked with a government order eliminating ISP access to offshore gambling sites.
Continued financial woes prompted the reforms, intended to resuscitate an economy that was on the verge of bankruptcy in 2011 before a €78bn bail-out by the EU Commission, the European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.
High Tax Rates
The tax rates of licensees start at 15% for the lowest revenue earners among new iGaming market entrants in Portugal, a level which some operators may deem too high for incursion, following the demonstrated sentiment of 888Casino.
The Santa Casa has not been fully eliminated either, retaining a monopoly on sports-betting monopoly at 50% higher than other would-be competitors online.
Warning Trend to Governments
With William Hill similarly withdrawing from a tough Romanian regulation landscape, there is a potential trend afoot for online casinos to withdraw from unfavorably regulated national markets. Clearly, all government expectations, hopes or strategies relying on iGaming reforms for increased revenue have to be tempered by perceptions of the fairness of the tax systems that they implement into their designated free markets.