Mixed with glamor and gold, casinos are an important part of popular culture. Think of James Bond films or Las Vegas with their poker chip marriages, these are just two examples of how casinos are more than just gambling rooms, they are also placed umbilically linked to stories and history.
With the entry into the century. XXI, this social heritage has been extended to the digital world. Thousands of online casinos have opened all over the world, delivering the “casino” experience in the comfort of the home of millions of users. Portugal was no exception. As of 2005, the year in which the Gaming Regulation and Inspection Service (SRIJ) started to regulate both physical and online casinos, issuing the necessary licenses and disclosing the relative numbers of bets and revenues.
In addition to being a diversion, this sector generates profits not only for the 13 entities currently authorized but also for the government, which has seen a rise in tax collection in recent years, with these figures reaching 20.8 million euros in the last year.
We talk about the history and the stories that experience in a physical casino tell. Here, likewise, enter the games that fill the collective memory of millions. Poker, Blackjack, Roulette, and the charismatic gambling machines, commonly known as slot machines, are brands that time has not erased and that, on the contrary, with the advent of online gambling seem to have become preferred by online players.
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According to the latest SRIJ report for the first half of 2020, the closure of physical casinos in mid-March has contributed to an increase in the volume of betting and the number of online players in general and, in particular, in games of fortune or chance made available to online casinos.
March and April registered, respectively, betting volumes of 381.1 (+ 95.3%) and 479.3 (+ 97.5%) million euros when compared to the same period in 2019. In relation to bettors, the available data point to a total of 625.5 thousand players as opposed to the 441.2 thousand recorded in the 1st half of 2019. Of this total, 287.8 thousand belong to new registrations and also represent an increase compared to 227 4 thousand counted last year.
With online sports betting falling due to the postponement/cancellation of sports competitions, the lion’s share of online gamblers ended up falling to games of chance with 45.3% of the 625.5 thousand registered bettors opting for this type of bet. If we add this 45.3% to 19.8% that divided the bets in casino games with the sports bets, the percentage of players rises to 65.1%.
And where did the preference of these thousands of gamblers go in online games of chance? If your answer was for traditional games like slot machines, roulette or poker, your answer is correct.
Despite the profusion of new games, the preferences of Portuguese online gamblers went to more traditional games, games that end up occupying the first three places in the ranking published by SRIJ. Leading the way are online slot machines that are responsible for more than 69% of the total betting volume in each month of the semester analyzed. In the second place, silver is delivered to French Roulette with an average share of almost 14% while bronze is owned by poker with around 11% of the betting volume.
The growth in the number of online casino players and their preference for traditional games has many explanations.
The first of which is related to the closing of physical casinos during the mandatory confinement phase, which has led many of the usual players of this type of entities to migrate to the digital universe, where they find attractive players such as casinos with registration bonuses and games that emulate the visual and auditory stimuli of the physical space in a very real way (slot machines are one of those examples)