The massive coastline with access to the Atlantic Ocean for a long time brought the country fame only by famous seafarers – Vasco da Gama, Pedro Alvariz Cabral and others. The earliest mention of gambling in the state dates back to 1783, when a national charity quiz was held. Casino in Portugal appeared only at the beginning of the XX century.
The Dictatorship of Gambling
In the beginning (1984) the circus theater Saraiva de Carvalho in the port city of Figueira da Foz was replaced by a gambling club. Later, (1904) it was transformed into a full-fledged gambling house, which lasted 6 years until the revolution of 2010. The government of the Republic, led by Teofilo Braga, abolished not only the titles of nobility, but also the only casino.
Gambling returned to Portugal in 1926, when António de Oliveira Salazar came to power. During the 36 years of the dictator’s rule a number of gambling clubs were opened. The first were the casinos in the city of Estoril and on the Madeira archipelago.
Today gambling is officially allowed in Portugal, but under certain conditions. Casinos (land-based and online) are regulated by a separate Commission, the Serviço de Regulação e Inspeção de Jogos (SRIJ). It is a governmental Inspectorate under the Ministry of Tourism. Such an original attachment of the national regulator should not be embarrassing. A solid part of the revenues (about 60%) from tourism in Portugal comes from gambling establishments.
The next aspect is the geolocation of gambling clubs. Gambling establishments are required to be located within designated areas. Now, there are 10 such areas in Portugal (the regions are grouped according to the letters of the alphabet):
- Açores, Algarve;
- Vidago-Pedras Salgadas;
- Póvoa de Varzim, Porto Santo;
- Figueira da Foz; Funchal;
- Espinho, Estoril.
The vast majority of zones (9) are filled exclusively by casinos. The license issued to such clubs covers the following categories of gambling – slot machines, roulette, poker, baccarat, blackjack, craps. At the same time, most casinos contain separate rooms for Bingo.
Legislative framework and tax deductions
Legitimate status of gambling organizers is obtained from the regulators supervised by the state. In addition to the SRIJ inspection, whose area of responsibility includes land and online casinos, as well as Bingo, there are other commissions.
The Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa (SCML) oversees the national lotteries, betting on racetracks. The SCML is supervised by the minister in charge of the social security system.
The Comissão de Jogos inspects gambling equipment, administers regulators and issues licenses. It is a division within the SRIJ.
The legal framework for gambling in Portugal covers several dozen documents. Most of them are decree-laws (as amended from time to time), which can be found on the SRIJ’s official website.
Taxes on revenue from land-based casinos vary between 4.5 and 40% and depend on the location of the establishment. In comparison, the deductions of online platforms with slot machines are 15 – 30%.
According to the regulator SRIJ in Portugal legally operates 12 land-based casinos and a slot machine hall. The leader is the southern region of Algarve, where there are 3 gambling complexes – Vilamoura, Monte Gordo and Portimão. The only slot machine room is located on the island of Terceira and is called Green Lounge.
The main attention of tourists directed to the gambling “province” of Estoril, where the most popular tandem of gambling establishments.
Casino do Estoril
The complex offers visitors restaurants, bars with a disco, and concert halls with live music, including opera performances. When it comes to gambling, the casino is available:
- Slot machines hall. There are over 700 slot machines in the hall.
- 5 rooms with table games. Different versions of roulette and blackjack, Caribbean Stud Poker, baccarat (Ponto e Banca). The quartet listed above complements the room with Banca Francesa, a Portuguese dice game.
- Poker. In addition to the Caribbean Stud Poker option, located separately, the casino invites you to the tables with other versions of the game – Texas Hold’em and Omaha.
Working hours of the poker lobby are limited between 3 p.m. and 3 a.m. Additionally, the casino holds Poker Night every Friday, where the tables are open until 6 a.m.
Another reason to visit the Estoril Casino is historical. The complex gained fame as a haven for adventurers and spies during World War II. Subsequently, the establishment featured in Fleming’s James Bond novel Casino Royale.
Casino de Lisboa
A relatively young institution that opened in 2006. The casino club of the same name, in addition to the Portuguese capital, is located in Macau. Both complexes, including the online casino, are owned by Estoril-Sol. Visitors to the capital club are offered:
- A hall of 1,100 slot machines. There are more than 200 varieties of games, including machines with progressive jackpot.
- Hall with more than three dozen tables for roulette, Blackjack, baccarat (Ponto e Banca), dice (Banca Francesa) and Caribbean Stud Poker.
- Separate room for other types of poker.
- Restaurants and bars.
- Theater room for 600 seats.
Both Estoril and Lisboa casinos, are a short drive away (35 km). Therefore, it is possible to compare these clubs on your own during a tourist visit to Portugal.
The casino, reborn after a long pause, is one of the oldest on the Iberian Peninsula. The casino was licensed in 1928, but the first slot machines were not installed until 1970. Before that the customers fought at the tables. In 2002/03 Casino Figueira underwent an extensive reconstruction. The result was an expansion of the premises, including a stage for cultural events. Today, the casino offers:
- Halls with a variety of slot machines. In the lobby there are machines with both mechanical and digital reels. Additionally, installed video pokers, roulette simulators, blackjack and Keno.
- Dice room – Banca Francesa.
- Blackjack tables.
- Different versions of roulette.
- Texas Hold’em room.
At the same time, the casino holds poker tournaments. The non-gaming halls of the institution are used for the presentation of scientific awards, music contests and festivals.
Casino de Vilamoura
A relatively small gambling establishment attracts by its convenient location. The casino is a short walk from the marina. The club has beautiful views of the beach. Together with two other establishments of the gambling province of Algarve, Casino de Vilamoura belongs to the conglomerate Sol Verde Group. The choice of gambling entertainment covers:
- Machine room. In the hall available reel slot machines and tables with American roulette (4), baccarat (1), blackjack (3), dice (2).
- Live poker room.
The highlight of the place is the Baccarat restaurant. Served tables are located in an open space surrounded by slot machines.
Land-based casinos in Portugal offer a wide range of gambling on a legal basis. The range of entertainment is complemented by national cuisine and a varied cultural program. Musical festivals, opera and pop stars perform in the clubs. Some establishments have theatrical scenes. A perfect complement to most Portuguese casinos are beaches and waves of the Atlantic Ocean.
To keep abreast of all the news and events in the world of online casinos, we recommend visiting the Blog and Articles section of our website. There you will find the latest and most interesting materials about new games, bonuses, promotions and much more. We constantly update this section so that our players always have access to relevant information.