A year of optimism ends in disappointment as Jair Bolsonaro’s inaction and electoral pandering come at the expense of Brazil taking its best shot to regulate a federal sports betting market…
December 12, 2022, marked the last possible day for Brazil to approve it’s federal sports betting regime… A date which passed without a trace of legislative action.
On reflection, Jair Bolsonaro’s presidency did little to convince its biggest electorate, the Evangelicals, to support regulating sports betting. A hurdle needed to launch an industry that would place Brazil among the five most popular global betting markets.
Due to its affinity to sports and maintaining the sixth largest population, a regulated Brazilian sports betting sector could be worth around $3.4bn by 2027, according to H2 Gambling Capital – That is, of course, if the industry is to be regulated soon.
Back in 2018, the government of former President Michel Temer established a two-year period to approve the regulatory proposal, with the possibility of a further two-year extension period. Rumours have circulated in recent weeks about a possible ‘deadline extension’ for Bolsonaro to sign the regulation before leaving office, yet reality shows that the original deadline established for December 12 was not met.
Why Brazil must keep the faith on sports betting…
In its current context, Brazil’s betting market already exists and generates millions in wagers each year. The biggest operators have established a localised presence to launch their products, whilst others have already domiciled their businesses ahead of the market’s pending launch.
Without its regulatory determination, truth beholds that the market operates from the shadows, and that all the revenue that the Government could generate with a simple signature, is lost.
The roadmap showed a specific plan for Brazil to be able to accept bets in a legal and regulated before the World Cup, which began in November and will end this coming weekend.
The inexhaustible and relentless pressure of the evangelical banks, and consequently the inaction from Bolsonaro, led the country that was a fan-favourite for sportsbooks to not being able to legally take advantage of a single Reais – an outcome that has disappointed all regulatory stakeholders involved in sports betting make-up.
In other words, neither can the state generate revenue, nor can customers take advantage of the legal blanket to play in a regulated market with clear regulations, prevention and security measures.
So what does this lack of initiative represent for the operators? Probably nothing. Along with suppliers and affiliates, they have already proven their ability to adapt their offer for all players. They have already done all the hard work, they’ve focused on improving their games and they’re the ones who eventually will deserve the credit for Brazil being considered “an industry giant” once this market finally opens up.
Football teams and the media will be able to continue with all the agreements currently in force since there are no provisions that prohibit them, at least in the short and medium term.
In a world full of divisive judgements and outcomes, defining the industry as immoral is a double standard that does little to represent sentiment around betting as popular and recreational activity… a reality Evangelicals will continue to disagree with.
Why? Regulating betting would open the doors for casinos and other types of gambling activities to be legalised. Evangelicals, as they have said in the past, believe these actions are “immoral”.
Although, perhaps, it is immoral for the Government to benefit from something that already exists and to seek for consumers to be protected. A dangerous travesty would be for Brazil to be unable to benefit economically from sports betting, offering its consumers a safe environment to play on regulated and taxed operators…