While horse racing has been predominantly popular in most parts of Europe, it is not equally popular in all countries across the continent. Portugal is one such example where horse racing as a sport has gained attention only in recent years.
A major reason for this is that betting on horse racing was illegal until a few years ago. Due to this reason, the country did not have many race courses or horse racing companies that organised horse racing events in the country. However, that all changed when the country started making active efforts to revive and improve tourism in the country.
In this regard, the legalisation of betting on horse racing was seen as a major aspect that could impact the economy and increase the world’s interest in the Portuguese horse racing industry.
horse racing in Portugal
The history of horse racing in Portugal dates back to 1924 when the first official racing track was built. Harness racing was introduced in the 1950s, while cross-country circuits and jumping arenas were launched a few decades later.
In present times, Golega is considered to be the horse capital of Portugal. The village has the richest horse racing culture in the country and has preserved its traditions. Golega is home to various riding schools and horse breeders. It also hosts Feira Nacional do Cavalo every year in November. It is a famous horse festival, where horse enthusiasts come to celebrate the traditions.
One of the most popular Portuguese racing tracks is in Cascais, near Marechal Carmona Park. Horse racing picked up a little pace at Cascais in Portugal in the late 80s and early 90s when the first indoor arena was built, making it the best horse riding centre in the country.
As horse racing continues to become popular across the country, betting avenues are also opening up. So, if you also want to be a part of the betting action in horse racing in Portugal, here is a brief guide to lead you in the right direction.
Betting on horse racing in Portugal
Betting and gambling, in general, have been an integral part of Portuguese culture. From a young age, kids get to see their elders indulge in gambling in cafes and betting houses for recreation.
The Portuguese are fond of taking chances with their money and like to bet on sports or casino games. Almost a decade ago, betting on horse racing was legalised, and besides traditional sports betting, it became the next choice for betting.
Individuals can place their bets physically in betting houses, commonly known as Casa de Apostas, tabacarias, or gas stations. There are various options for betting online, which we have discussed in the next section.
How to bet online on horse racing in Portugal
While many people prefer to place physical bets due to the traditional and cultural significance of betting, the trend of online betting is also gaining traction in the country.
The first actual steps to regulate betting were taken in 1961 when the Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa, a charity organisation, was given the exclusive authority to regulate and organise all forms of betting in Portugal.
In 2015, a law was passed to officially regulate online betting in the country and open the market for international betting operators. However, the tax rate was high, so only 11 bookmakers applied for a local license.
It was implied that the licensees would have to pay 8 to 16% tax on their betting revenue, thus forcing them to offer lower odds. As a result, many bettors turned to non-licensed sites to leverage the higher odds and lucrative bonuses.
In short, a select number of online betting sites are licensed, while most punters prefer to place their bets with unlicensed foreign operators. Some of the best betting sites for horse racing include 22 Bet, N1 Bet, and IGU Bet.
Is gambling legal in Portugal?
Gambling was legalised in Portugal on 29th April 2015 when the Decree-Law no.66 was enforced. Online betting sites must obtain a license to operate in the country.
Are gambling winnings taxable in Portugal?
While the site operators are charged 8 to 16% of their betting turnover, players are not taxed on their winnings.
What payment methods are available for online betting in Portugal?
There are several e-wallet options, including Skrill and Neteller, for deposit and withdrawal for online betting on horse racing. You also have the option to use Multibanco. It is an interbank payment system, and you can make instant transfer deposits without any charges. However, it cannot be used as a withdrawal method. Alternatively, you can also use a debit or credit card.