2020 is being an atypical year in all areas. Social isolation, a requirement for preventing the COVID-19 virus, has made people return to old habits or start new ones that only time will tell if they will remain. These containment measures included the closure of public places such as theaters, physical casinos, and stadiums. Such a necessary measure directly affected the companies involved, causing a marked shake-up in the economy.

Online gaming spikes during coronavirus pandemic

Games of Fortune or Chance

Games of chance are allowed in Portugal through Decree-Law no. 422/89. It is, therefore, a relatively recent activity, but which has been increasing its adherence in recent years. And during this first semester of 2020, the stakes increased considerably in relation to 2019. Such an event occurred mainly between the months of March and April when the quarantine reached its peak.

With the loosening of isolation in May, growth slowed down to numbers close to those before the pandemic. The explanation for people turning to online alternatives was given by the closing of physical casinos, causing an increase in bets.

In addition, the fact that physical casinos like Estoril, also have an online casino – Estoril Sol Casino – made the transition more streamlined for regulars. With the gradual return of physical casinos, it was natural that part of this public also returned to their leisure activities outside the home.

Regarding the categories of online games that were most accessed in that period, the report points out that slot machines like those offered in mega888 represent 60% of the total volume of bets, followed by online poker, with 14%. The mind game registered an increase in the value of the stakes, mainly in March and April.

Increase in game practice

Online casinos recorded a significant increase in new players compared to 2019. The figures released in the SRIJ report point to a 45.3% growth in new registrations in games of chance. As a result, online casino revenue grew 74% in the first half of Portugal. These figures were already expected since in the first quarter the values ​​had already broken records and reached € 69.8 million.

In figures, these figures reach 287,800 records between March and April, naturally decreasing in May and returning later to figures reached before the pandemic. Of these new players, 45.3% bet on games of chance, 34.9% on sports betting at odds and 19.8% on both.

Sports betting odds

Sports betting at odds depend on the championships being played. With the cancellation or postponement of famous tournaments, it was natural for the proportion of bets to decrease and reach the minimum in April.

Among the sports most affected are those that were most sought after, with a 75.2% reduction in bets on football, tennis, and basketball, sports that together represent 95% of all sports bets. This meant a 79.2% decrease in bets on football, 74.1% on tennis and 94.4% on basketball.

However, with the gradual return of some tournaments starting in May, the numbers started to return to the levels previously indicated. The Bundesliga’s return increased betting volume, representing 32.4% of the volume in May. The tournament was followed by the Vysshaya Liga, with a volume of 19.4%.

In June, the numbers increased with the return of other competitions such as the Portuguese League, which increased the volume of bets by 25.6%, followed by La Liga with 14.3%. The return contributed to the numbers returning to the previous ones observed before the pandemic. The same observed in basketball, with its championships gradually returning and bringing an increase in the volume of bets in the CBA (Chinese), ACB (Spanish) and BBL (German) leagues.


All economic sectors suffered some impact during the first half of 2020. Interestingly, it also affected online activities, only in the opposite direction. These activities that do not require physical presence, had an increase in the volume of accesses, which contributed to an increase in new player records and advancement of bets in various modalities that were not so widely seen before.

What the report proves is that there were several modalities that became even more popular, while others were discovered and may remain an alternative for many. What remains for us is whether this trend will continue in the post-pandemic. For now, the numbers show that it is possible for many users to continue using both alternatives – physical and online – especially with regard to games of chance and fortune. And so, even with the reopening of theaters and casinos and other leisure alternatives, they also continue using these new means.

With regard to sports betting at odds, the reduction was shown only when competitions were suspended, which shows that the sports betting market has the potential to increase the level quickly. In other words, the return of its main leagues was enough for the numbers to return to their previous level. And this is quite significant.