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Casinos and Gambling in Portugal
Portugal attracts gambling lovers with its 11 casinos, the most of which belong to two big operators: Estoril Sol Group and Solverde Group. Modern and luxurious Casino Lisboa belongs to Estoril Sol and is among the world 10 biggest casinos.
LAND BASED CASINOS
History of casinos in Portugal
Gambling as well as casinos in Portugal have very long history. The oldest and one of the biggest casinos in whole Europe is Casino Estoril, which was created thanks to the Portuguese businessman and capitalist - Teodoro dos Santos in 1931. This casino from the beginning was regarded as a great entertainment and cultural centre and as one of the most fashionable places in the country. During World War II it was reportedly a place were spies would meet. Casino Povoa de Varzim is among the oldest casinos in Portugal, it is architecturally modeled on the style of Charles Garnier who designed among others Casino Monte Carlo. Casino da Povoa de Varzim has been opened in 1934. Today both casinos belong to the largest in Portugal group - Estoril Sol, where the majority of shares is held by the “king of gambling” Stanley Ho. Currently in Portugal there are 11 casinos, which thanks to attractive seaside locations create an entertainment not only for experienced players but as well among tourists.
Casinos in Portugal are controlled by Serviço de Inspecção de Jogos - Turismo de Portugal, known as Gambling Inspection Service. Concessions are given to land based casinos by government. Currently in Portugal the gambling law from 1980 is present, it was slightly changed in 2011 (for instance a record concerning games administrative requirements). In 2010 and in 2012 a modification of a law concerning casinos and an introduction of licenses for online casinos were proposed, but these propositions were rejected. Gambling law in Portugal defines special gambling zones where one can gamble legally, they include: Açores, Algarve, Espinho, Estoril, Figueira da Foz, Funchal (Madeira), Porto Santo, Póvoa de Varzim, Tróia and Vidago-Pedras Salgadas (Chaves). Currently on Portugal’s territory there are 11 casinos which are a property of four operators: Estoril Sol, Solverde, Amorim Turismo and Pestana. The biggest of them is Estoril Sol group which controls over 60% of Portugal’s gambling market. In accordance with Portugal’s law poker is a game of chance that is why it can be played only in casinos. Slot machines can be legally utilised only in casinos. Adults over the age of 18 may enter casinos. Gambling Control Commission may on operator’s or player’s demand put an entrance ban on a certain person for up to 5 years time period. Portugal casinos can be opened up to 12 hours a day.
Where, when and what to play in Portugal casinos?
Gambling in Portugal can be practised legally only in 10 specially destined gambling zones. Casinos are located along the coast of the country, one of them is found on the island belonging to Portugal - Madeira. Casinos are opened from afternoon hours until 3:00-4:00a.m throughout the week. In Portugal’s casinos offer, players will find games such as roulette, blackjack, Banca Francesa, punto banco, baccarat, electronic roulette, video poker, and many slot machines. In some of the casinos poker tournaments are organised.
Cities in which land based casinos are found:
- Carvalhal – Grândola
- Figueira da Foz
- Monte Gordo
- Povoa de Varzim
Internet Casinos in Portugal
Currently in Portugal there is no online casinos licensing system. However, according to Court of Justice Portugal player may legally use international websites which are in Portugal and English language, bets are accepted in euro and American dollars.
As of now, licensing system of online casinos does not exist, introduction of it was proposed in 2010 and 2012 but until now no action towards it was taken. In accordance with a decision from 2009 taken by Court of Justice, Portugal legislation does not exclude the offer of international casinos on the Portuguese territory.
AS A CURIOSITY
A woman won a million dollars in a slot machine at Casino Estoril
In 2001 at Casino Estoril a slot machine win on European scale occurred. 71 years old woman has hit a jackpot of $1 100 000.
Having only few coins he has won 30 000 euro in Casino Lisboa
In 2013 a Lizbon citizen decided to go crazy on the last day of carnival and went to Casino Lisboa. Having only a few 20-cents coins he decides to play on a Dolphin’s Pearl slot machine. A small amount of money which he had invested has multiply itself very quickly when he hit a Jackpot and won 30 000 euro.
A gambling addict has won a compensation from Casino Espinho
In 2012 Portugal’s Supreme Court declared that a gambling addict who has lost his whole wealth in casino Espinho is to receive a compensation of 83 000 euro. The Court found that the addiction of a 37 years old resident of Marco de Canavezes is so developed that he cannot control it himself. According to the Court casino’s authorities knew about the addiction of the man and were sending him invitations to Casino Espinho on purpose. The man did not resist temptation and decided to try free meals from the bar and restaurant of casino, as a matter of fact when he came in he decided to play and as a result lost everything he had.