Portuguese Gambling Laws
Most forms of gambling are legal in Portugal, including casinos and the lottery. The state has the right to operate games of chance, which they may organize themselves or pass on the rights to a private company.
The state can also authorize games which offer non-monetary prizes. These games may not be organized by for-profit companies, except for a promotional activity like a sweepstakes.
Social games, where the profits go directly to the state, are the exclusive right of The Games Department of Santa Casa da Misericordia de Lisboa (SCML). Games which fall into this category are sports betting and the state lottery.
SCML is permitted to organize the instant lottery, lotto, sports betting and the traditional lottery. If it gets permission from the government, the SCML may also set up other lotteries. However, betting on horse racing is not in the hands of the SCML.
Games such as bingo, horse racing and casinos are allowed to operate through a contract (normally 20 to 30 years). These contracts usually restrict the game to a specific region of the country.
Wagers cannot be accepted from those deemed unable to make reasonable decisions. This includes minors and those with a reduced mental capacity.
Machine gambling outside of casinos is forbidden by law in Portugal. It is also illegal to advertise casino gambling services throughout Portugal.
Portuguese law does not consider calling a television show to gain a prize as gaming. This also extends to inexpensive prizes offered to the public on a “just for fun” basis.
The law prohibits the sale of tickets for foreign lotteries. Advertising for foreign lotteries is also banned.
Queen D. Maria Pia gave approval in 1783 for Santa Casa da Misericordia de Lisboa (SCML) to conduct a lottery to benefit the royal hospital and the poor. This marked the beginning of the Portuguese National Lottery, which has also come to be known as Lotaria Nacional Santa Casa de Misericordia da Lisboa.
In 1892, the “Service of Lottery” was created, and this marked the start of the lottery operating under the name of the “Loteria Nacional.” As of this writing, it is still the only legal lottery in the country.
In 1961, SCML also gained the right to run betting games based on the outcome of football (soccer) matches. The lotto was added in 1985, and instant and break-open lotteries were added a decade later.
Initially, The National Lottery Service and The Department of Sports Betting ran the lottery (both under the umbrella of the SCML). That changed in 1991, when the operation of all games was transferred to The Games Department of Misericordia of Lisbon.
In CAMPIAO, Portugal has the oldest lottery house in the world They have been in business for over 150 years (established in 1840). After World War II, they opened branches in every major Portuguese city. Today, they sell lotto, football lotto, classic lottery, popular lottery and instant lottery in 16 branches throughout the country.
Casinos in Portugal
Portugal is divided into gambling zones. In most cases, one casino is allowed to exist in each gambling zone. You must be 18 or older to enter a Portuguese casino. Slot machines are consistently the most popular games in Portuguese casinos.
Currently, there are nine casinos in operation within Portugal. They are:
- Casino Solverde de Espinho (Espinho, Aveiro, Portugal) Open daily from 3pm until 3am, this casino offers 1,000 gaming machines and 24 table and poker games. This includes the following games: American roulette, baccarat, blackjack, Chemin de Fer, craps, dice, French bank, French roulette, poker and punto banco. Their website is located at www.solverde.pt. For more information, call +351 22 733 5500.
- Casino Estoril (Estoril, Lisboa, Portugal) Open daily from 3pm until 3am, this casino offers 26,900 feet of gaming space. There are 1,100 gaming machines (including video keno, video roulette and video poker) and 28 table games (including American roulette, baccarat, blackjack, French bank, French roulette, punto banco and roulette). For more information, call +351 21 466 7700. Their website is located at www.casino-estoril.pt.
- Casino Figueira da Foz (Figueira da Foc, Coimbra, Portugal) Open daily from 3pm until 3am, the casino has 500 gaming machines and 24 table games (blackjack, French bank, American roulette and French roulette). Their website is www.casinofigueira.pt, and interested parties may call +351 23 340 8400 for additional information.
- Casino Lisboa (Lisbon, Lisboa, Portugal) Open Sunday thru Thursday from 3pm until 3am and Friday and Saturday from 4pm until 4am. The casino features 165,000 square feet of gaming space, plus 891 gaming machines and 26 table and poker games. Their website is www.casino-lisboa.pt, and potential customers can call +351 21 892 9000 for more information.
- Casino da Madeira & Casino Park Hotel (Madeira, Regiao Autonomo da Madeira, Portugal) Open daily from 4pm until 4am, this casino offers 200 gaming machines. A restaurant and hotel are also located on the property. For more information, call +351 29 123 1121.
- Casino de Monte Gordo (Monte Gordo, Faro, Portugal) Open daily from 4pm until 3am, this casino has 201 gaming machines and 16 table games (American roulette, blackjack, French bank, French roulette, punto banco). The Casino de Monte Gordo phone number is +351 28 153 0800.
- Hotel Algarve Casino (Portimao, Faro, Portugal) Open daily from 4pm until 3am, the casino offers 305 gaming machines and 12 table and poker games (Punto banco, poker, French roulette, blackjack and American roulette). Customers can call +351 28 240 2000 for more information.
- Casino da Povoa de Varzim (Povoa de Varzim, Porto, Portugal) Open Sunday thru Thursday from 3pm until 3am and Friday and Saturday from 4pm until 4am. The casino features 691 gaming machines and 21 table games (baccarat, blackjack, chemin de fer, French bank, punto banco and roulette). Call Casino da Povoa at +351 25 269 0870 for more information.
- Casino de Vilamoura (Quarteira, Faro, Portugal) Open daily from 4pm until 3am, the casino offers 502 gaming machines and 14 table games (French roulette, French bank, blackjack, American roulette and punto banco). Their website is www.solverde.pt, and more information can be obtained by calling +351 28 931 0000.
Portugal is located in southwestern Europe and bordered by Spain. The largest city in Portugal, and its capital, is Lisbon.
Once a world power, Portugal lost much of its status following the destruction of Lisbon in a 1755 earthquake and the 1822 independence of Brazil as a colony. The country’s monarchy was deposed in 1910. Portugal lost its last overseas territory in 1999, when it gave Macau over to China.
A member of the European Union, Portugal’s economy relies on footwear, clothing, textiles, wine, wood products, glassware and porcelain. Portugal is the world’s leading producer of cork.
The population of the country is over 10 million. Besides ethnic Portuguese citizens, communities also exist from Ukraine, Brazil, Romania, Russia, Angola, Moldova, China, Latin American and Guinea-Bissau.
84% percent of the population is Roman Catholic. However, it is estimated that only 19% take the sacraments or attend mass on a regular basis.
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