A deepening revenue crisis may force Portuguese online gaming liberalization in the very near future. Portugal News Online (PNO) is reporting that the prospect of a few hundred million Euros in gaming tax revenues is seriously motivating a push to open gaming markets to foreign competition.
Gaming Revenue Solution
The PNO report claims that as recently as mid-December, a report circulated through the highest level of Portuguese Government pointing to gaming revenues as the answer to a projected €478 million budget shortfall. That report suggested that online gaming licenses could generate as much as €250 million in 2012. While that’s a pretty hefty sum, its a far cry from the €600 million projection floated by former Portuguese Minister of Sport Laurentino Dias last year.
Good News for Bwin
No one is likely more thrilled at the prospect of an open Portuguese gaming market than the folks at Bwin. Bwin’s efforts at cracking that market have been seriously hampered Santa Casa de Misericordia de Lisboa by the country’s legal gaming monopoly.
Santa Casa recently won a major court decision that forced Bwin to remove all advertising from Portuguese soccer stadiums, programs and merchandise. The Portuguese Court of Appeals ruled that online casinos had an unfair competitive advantage over land based casinos because of the way they’re taxed. Bwin had already invested over €4 million sponsoring the Portuguese National Soccer Team.
Santa Costa is now seeking €27 million in damages from Bwin as a result of the case.
Bigger Euro Picture
Countries like Spain that have fought hard to protect their own gaming interests are slowly moving towards a liberalization model that are more in tune with European Union trade laws. Given the widespread economic challenges in the Euro Zone, specifically in Greece, Portugal and Italy, it’s likely that many more governments will see the advantages of an open gaming market.
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