Portugal’s Santa Casa lottery launches online sports betting

Portugal’s sports bettors have one more online wagering option after the local regulator approved the country’s 13th licensee.

On Friday, the Serviço Regulação e Inspeção de Jogos do Turismo de Portugal SRIJ regulatory body announced that it had issued an online sports betting license to SAS Social Betting, Gaming and Gambling Online, SA. The company will operate using the Placard.pt domain, which officially launched on Monday.

Placard is the offline betting brand of state lottery monopoly Santa Casa da Misericordia de Lisboa SCML, which was the primary antagonist against international gambling sites before Portugal liberalized its online market in 2015.

Santa Casa originally announced its intentions to apply for a sports betting license over two years ago. Launching just days before the 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off, poker domino SCML is apparently banking on familiarity with its Placard brand to allow it to hoover up a sufficient volume of customers without a lot of advance marketing work.

SCML holds a 54% stake in SAS, with minority stakes held by the Portuguese Misericordia Union, the Montepio Geral Foundation, Caritas Portuguesa and the Associação dos Cegos e Amblíopes de Portugal ACAPO.

Placard makes Portugal’s fifth online betting license, joining Betclic Everest Group, Bet Entertainment Technologies, Casino Portugal, Estoril Sol and Cofina Media’s A Nossa Aposta brand, which received its online sports betting approval in March to go with the online casino license it was granted last October.

Sports betting is the dominant vertical in Portugal’s regulated market despite the onerous tax on betting turnover that averages 12%. Sports betting revenue was flat in the SRIJ’s most recent quarterly report, although that figure is expected to spike in the current quarter with the volume of World Cup wagers.

Portuguese-licensed online gambling operators generated combined revenue of €122.5m in 2017, more than twice the sum generated in the limited window of licensed activity in 2016. Still, online represented only a small fraction of the overall Portuguese gaming market revenue of €3.52b in 2017, of which over €3b came via SCML’s lotteries.

Last November, Santa Casa imposed new restrictions on its Placard product, limiting punters to a single betting slip stamped with the bettor’s tax number and a daily wagering limit of €5k per punter.

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