The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has called on the Portuguese government to rethink its “discriminatory” sliding tax for online gambling, proposing instead a flat tax based on gross gaming revenue.
The current scheme, which taxes online sports operators between eight and 16 percent of turnover and casino operators between 15 and 30 percent of GGR, has proved controversial ever since its inception in 2015.
“EGBA urges the authorities to apply equal taxes across all online gambling products – and based on gross gaming revenue.”
“A sensible taxation level will lead to better priced betting odds – and pull into the regulated market more of the 75 percent of Portuguese players who are now playing on websites not regulated in Portugal.”
The recommendation comes after ongoing calls from online firms to change the tax rate, which has driven international operators out of the market, with a recent report by the Universidade NOVA de Lisboa revealing that visits to unregulated sites increased by ten percent during 2018.
The Portuguese government formed a multi-ministry committee to discuss changes to the tax scheme on 28 January, however the inclusion of state-owned lottery monopoly Santa Casa in proceedings led some commentators to question its efficacy.
“They are not very interested in having online gambling and betting with a tax regime that invites more players and more operators,” observed gaming lawyer Joao Alfredo Afonso at the time. “It will be directly competing with their land-based monopoly.”
In prolonging an exclusionary tax programme, the Portuguese government is only succeeding in driving players toward sites it claims it is protecting against.