PokerStars is currently the biggest online poker website in the world and Full Tilt Poker is one of the most well known online poker website in the world. Both companies which are owned by Canadian based Amaya Gaming recently announced that they have decided to shutdown their online poker operations in Portugal.
PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker have sent an email to their affiliates informing them that they will no longer accept online poker players from Portugal and have also requested their affiliates to pull down all marketing material and stop all promotions targeting the Portuguese market.
Both companies have confirmed that while they are exiting the Portuguese market as of now, they have plans to return in the near future.
Portugal recently decided to make changes to its online gambling legislature and one of the major changes involves an increase in online gambling taxes. The new tax laws make it extremely difficult for online gambling operators to make any significant profit after paying operational costs and government taxes. Portugal will now require online gambling operators to pay a high tax on gross gaming revenue (GGR). Small companies that have an annual revenue lesser than €5 million will be required to pay 15% in taxes while companies earning more revenue will be required to pay a higher percentage. Portugal has imposed up to 30% in gaming taxes on major companies who earn significant amounts of annual revenue.
Portugal has also made it compulsory for all online gambling operators to apply for a new license that is scheduled to commence in September 2015. A number of gambling establishments have expressed their disappointment in the new online gambling law in Portugal and have decided to wind up operations immediately. The three biggest gambling firms to recently pull out of Portugal include PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and William Hill.
Although PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker have exited the Portuguese market, they will apply for a new license in September and could possibly return before the end of the year. A statement from PokerStars read
[We] fully expect to apply for a license in Portugal so that we can provide a fun, safe and competitive environment for Portuguese consumers to enjoy online poker
Portugal is trying to ensure that there are no loopholes in its online gambling industry and also trying to prevent unlicensed websites from operating. It remains to be seen how affective the new gambling legislation turns out to be and if it will improve the state of Portugal’s online gambling industry.