Brazil Senate Delays Progress on Sports Betting Bill

Posted on: November 8, 2023, 06:54h. 

Last updated on: November 8, 2023, 06:54h.

In a move that further extends the saga of legalizing sports betting in Brazil, the Senate has deferred discussions on the matter. Once again, this leaves the fate of the proposed legislation uncertain.

The Brazilian flag flying in front of the National Congress buildings
The Brazilian flag flying in front of the National Congress buildings. The Senate continues to drag its feet on sports betting legislation. (Image: Vecteezy)

Originally slated for Tuesday, the Senate Sports Commission abruptly canceled a meeting to deliberate on the legalization and regulation of sports betting. The chamber has provided no explanation for the sudden decision or an indication of when the talks might be rescheduled.

The clock, however, continues to tick, as the Senate’s website displays a looming deadline of November 11 for voting on the bill. That’s two weeks after its initial agenda placement.

Regulated Sports Betting Remains Elusive

The proposed legislation outlines a foundational 18% taxation rate for sports betting companies and online casinos. However, the legalization of iGaming remains absent from current considerations.

Behind closed doors, parliamentarians are grappling with the issue of tax rates, with a push to introduce flexibility into the system. Efforts are underway to reduce the tax rate for sports betting from 18% to 12%, while maintaining the higher rate of 18% for online gambling. Notably, some senators advocate for the complete removal of iGaming discussions from the bill.

The journey toward regulating betting activities in Brazil commenced with a Provisional Measure published in July this year, marking the culmination of five years of extensive debates. However, on October 18, the Senate opted to delay its vote following a request for a comprehensive review.

Having secured approval from the Chamber of Deputies, the bill is currently undergoing simultaneous processing by the Economic Affairs Commission (CAE). Once both committees give their approval, the legislation will advance to the Senate Plenary for a final decision.

This leaves stakeholders and the burgeoning sports betting industry in Brazil eagerly awaiting the outcome of this protracted legislative process.

Mixed Reactions

Senator Romário de Souza Faria, a former soccer player and the Senate’s Sports Commission president, had routinely expressed support for the proposition. However, concerns were raised during the legislative discussions about the insufficient time available for a thorough examination.

Compounding the situation was the submission of over 100 proposed amendments to the bill. At last reading, Faria had rejected many of the amendments, leaving only 20 in place for his committee to consider.

There has been a struggle within the Senate to find significant support for the bill since before former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro lost the election in 2022. He had opposed the measure and had supporters in the Senate who were willing to back him up.

The imbalance continues and some politicians may be using a poll as the basis of their opposition. On the Senate’s website, Brazilians can vote on their support of the bill. Currently, 1,305 are against it and only 19 are for it.

It’s far from a scientific study and doesn’t reflect the same results other research has shown. This past May, a different study conducted by Aposta Legal Brasil and OpinionBox revealed that 64% of the respondents are ready to embrace legalized sports betting.

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