SBC News Brazil: Manssur resignation rocks final steps of Bets launch  

Brazil: Manssur resignation rocks final steps of Bets launch  

The Ministry of Finance of Brazil has confirmed that José Francisco Manssur has resigned from his post and will no longer participate in the final procedures of the forthcoming launch of Brazil’s federal sports betting marketplace.

Manssur served as a principal adviser to the government in drafting Bill No. 3,626/2023, which forms the legislative framework for Brazil to launch its federal sports betting marketplace, locally referred to as ‘Bets’.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Finance published a brief notice announcing Manssur’s departure from his post, declaring: “Manssur was at the forefront of drafting the set of rules for regulating the fixed-odd betting sector in Brazil. The process was conducted throughout 2023 and concluded in December, after the approval of the new legislation by the National Congress and the sanction by the Presidency of the Republic.”

However, Brazilian news sources reported that Manssur resigned with immediate effect due to an acrimonious dispute with President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s government, over the final measures of the Bets Regime coming into law.

Manssur is reported to have stood against the plans of Centrão, a powerful bloc of congress which seeks to influence how Brazil will establish its Secretaria de Prêmios e Apostas (SPA) – ‘Secretariat of Prizes and Betting’.

Centrão (Big Centre) carries significant political power in Congress, led by the President of the Chamber, Arthur Lira (PP), who is recognised as the kingmaker in how Brazil processes its federal laws.

As reported by SBCNoticias, “Manssur had been the target of attacks by the Centrão, which wants to control the sector, with an eye on the income from the regulation of betting, which is expected to raise between 3,000 and 6,000 million reais this year, according to Treasury estimates.”

In previous congressional hearings related to the drafting of the Bets Budget, Lira criticised the Ministry of Finance’s plans for the redistribution of tax funds collected from the regime.

Lira proposed that taxes be allocated to the Ministry of Sport led by Andre Fufuca, a member of Centrão and the Progressive Party (PP), tasked with the redistribution of funds for Brazilian projects/departments on welfare, education, culture, public health and social security. Centrão members backed Lira’s proposal over the ‘fixed distribution model’ endorsed by the Ministry of Finance and approved by the Senate.

The Ministry of Finance proceeds with its mandate to form the Secretariat of Bets and Prizes, in which it published plans this February to begin the recruitment of 38 professionals to establish Brazil’s first dedicated supervisory body for gambling.

Finance Minister Fernando Haddad reassured stakeholders that, following an arduous process to agree on the binding terms of the Bets Regime, the governing duties of the Secretariat would be maintained by the Ministry of Finance.

Haddad is yet to name a President of the Secretariat of Bets and Prizes, many of whom believed would be Manssur, following his work on initiatives. Meanwhile, the office of President Lula da Silva maintains that Manssur left of his own accord, as he did not wish to be part of the Ministry of Finance’s pending reorganisation of secretarial duties.

Though authorised as a federal law on 1 January, as it stands, the government and Ministry of Finance have yet to publish the regulatory schedule for the licensing of the Bets Regime, necessary to formally launch Brazil’s sports betting marketplace.

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