RGA voices concerns over draft Portuguese online gambling law

Online gambling trade organisation the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) has said while it welcomes the Portuguese government’s decision to regulate the country’s online gambling market, it is concerned that ‘unworkable’ tax rates could render the market unviable for internet sports betting operators.

The RGA said that punitive taxes on stakes of 8-16% for online sports betting proposed in the current draft law could deter operators from applying for licences and investing in Portugal.

The proposed online gambling law is currently in the process of going through Portuguese parliamentary process.

The trade body suggested that the taxation levels will ‘severely’ limit competition in the domestic sports betting market to the detriment of Portuguese customers and tax revenues that could be generated if a lower tax rate was introduced.

Although operators that do apply for a licence in the country will be subjected to such punitive taxes, it appears that monopoly operator of offline sports betting Santa Casa will only face half the taxation rate its online counterparts do.

In response, the RGA has urged Portuguese regulators to rethink their approach to the taxation of the online sports betting market.

Clive Hawkswood, chief executive officer of the RGA, said: “Whilst the RGA and its members welcome the Portuguese initiative in seeking to regulate the online gambling sector, our members are extremely concerned about the unworkable tax rates that are proposed in the draft law which is presently being considered.

“The extent of the disparity in tax burden between licensed online sports betting operators and the offline monopoly operator Santa Casa could be as much as 50% in favour of Santa Casa.

“Such a differential has the potential to create a situation of substantial illegal state aid being granted to Santa Casa by the Portuguese government whilst also destroying any hope for fair competition in a future regulated online sports betting government.

“The RGA would welcome the opportunity to engage in a constructive dialogue with the Portuguese government to ensure a level playing field for all online sports betting operators seeking to obtain licenses.”

source : www.igamingbusiness.com

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