Brazilian Senate Passes Sports Betting Bill, Online Gambling Bill Rejected

Date: December 13, 2023

Last updated on: December 13, 2023

In a significant move, the Brazil Senate has finally granted approval to a pivotal bill that could pave the way for the establishment of a regulated sports betting market in the country. While this marks a positive step forward, the approval comes with a caveat, as the Senate opted against endorsing provisions related to online gambling.

Brazilian senators celebrate during a session vote earlier this year
Brazilian senators celebrate during a session vote earlier this year. The chamber has approved a sports betting bill but omitted online casinos. (Image: Reuters)

The Chamber of Deputies had approved the bill in September, and the Senate has been working on it periodically since then. Its updated version of the legislation will now go back to the Chamber of Deputies for another review.

For companies seeking to operate in this burgeoning field, a specific license for online or physical betting or a combination of both will be necessary. The Ministry of Finance will be in charge of issuing the licenses, which are valid for five years and could cost up to BRL30 million (US$6 million).

To qualify for a license, companies must meet certain criteria, including maintaining their headquarters and administration within Brazil. They also must adhere to technical and cybersecurity standards, appoint a member with expertise in the field and implement internal control measures for customer service.

Concerning the taxation of bettors’ winnings, the proposed reduction from 30% to 15% has financial implications for the federal government. It initially anticipated revenue ranging from BRL2 billion to BRL6 billion (US$402,600 to $1.2 million) in 2024, but may now have to accept around half that amount.

There are also strict guidelines for advertising that prevent gaming operators from disseminating misleading information to bettors about the likelihood of winning. Additionally, operators cannot portray betting as socially attractive, including the use of celebrities who suggest that participation contributes to personal and professional success.

Among the stipulations, gaming operators are required to establish a customer service channel, either by telephone or the Internet. This must be free of charge and is designed to address and resolve queries and requests related to betting.

The legislative journey of the bill faced delays as senators grappled with the inclusion of virtual casinos in the proposal. Although online casinos are currently prohibited in Brazil, their operation persists due to the foreign headquarters of the companies involved. Users can easily create accounts on these platforms and declare legal age to access games like slots, roulette, blackjack, and poker.

Recent investigations into groups promoting and selling the game “Fortune Tiger,” known as Jogo do Tigre in Brazil, have further fueled discussions among parliamentarians. The slot-like game, apart from being illegal, has come under fire amid reports that a number of players have wiped out their life savings trying to hit win big prizes.

As a result, some senators advocated for the removal of online gambling from the bill in response to the concerns raised by these investigations. They won the battle and, for now, regulated iGaming still isn’t welcome in Brazil.

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