International online gambling operators will soon be able to apply for a licence in Portugal, following the approval of new legislation by the Council of Ministers on Thursday.
The new law, which now only needs to be signed by President Anibal Cavaco Silva, is expected to be implemented by the end of the year and will bring an end to the online monopoly of Santa Casa de la Misericordia.
Portuguese authorities were asked to regulate the industry in 2011 by the Troika, the triumvirate made up of the European Commission (EC), the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
The Portuguese government stated in a press release: "The bill will proceed with the regulation of online gambling in line with the recommendations issued by the EC on this matter and the international best practices.”
Online betting, online poker and online casino will all be regulated and could generate fiscal revenues of €25m.
Authorities have estimated that the first licences could be issued during the third quarter of 2015 and the government revealed that "licenses will be awarded to all the companies that will ensure the full respect of a set of financial, economic and technical requirements”.
State-issued gambling licences will be valid for three years and will be renewable.