Brazil Sees Sports Betting Legislation Moving Forward, But Big Questions Remain

It’s now abundantly clear that, should Jair Bolsonaro beat Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and continue as Brazil’s president, gambling expansion will be stifled. However, sports betting is moving forward, even if the incumbent isn’t totally sold on the idea.

Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro screams into the microphone during a stop on the campaign trail. He is hoping to win the runoff election at the end of this month, which could stifle gambling and betting expansion in the country. (Image: Agence France-Presse)

On Monday, December 12, Brazil’s government needs to have made up its mind about how to regulate sports betting. In the face of this deadline, Bolsonaro said this week that the text of the decree is “mature” and “is quite advanced.”

Bolsonaro sees sports betting as a way to improve Brazil’s infrastructure. At the same time, he asserts that the government has “too much money.” At the same time, though, he can’t get behind online gambling, as Brazilians are “not mature enough” to handle it.

Brazil Closer to Legal Sports Betting

Sports betting has continued to grow rapidly around the globe, and Brazil is no exception. However, after many years of discussion, there is still more work to do.

At the end of 2018, the federal government approved fixed-odds wagers as a legal activity. It gave the Ministry of Economy four years to develop a market that would regulate both online and land-based sportsbooks.

That deadline is coming in December. Despite the FIFA World Cup right around the corner, Brazil hasn’t established the full regulatory framework that would allow it to capitalize on the event.

Bolsonaro, who faces a runoff election with da Silva in about 10 days, hasn’t spoken publicly in detail about what he might do about legalized sports betting. There is no concrete deadline for regulation and he hasn’t elaborated on the rules that might be coming.

In an interview with the Brazilian podcast “Paparazzo Rubro-Negro,” he said that the main issue is to define how the government will use the revenue it receives from sports betting. This is where his all-encompassing “infrastructure” description comes in.

Bolsonaro fielded a question about how the government would use the money. He stated, “I do not want it for the Treasury; I have too much money. The pulse now is where that money goes – infrastructure.”

In addition, he stated that the recommendation is that operators use the “.bet” domain since many already do. He believes this is already a “mature” solution that lends itself to better control.

Brazilians Not Ready For More Casinos

The current layout of sports betting in Brazil, because of the lack of regulations, is ripe for capital outflows. As a result, the government isn’t receiving revenue from operators.

This means it’s missing out on a market that could be worth around $720 million in gross gaming revenue by some estimations. That figure could grow to as much as $1.8 billion within four years.

Bolsonaro, who became president a year after the approval of the sports betting legislation, is ready to accept the fate of the activity in the country. However, the expansion of the gambling segment remains off the table.

The president doesn’t look at sports betting and casino gambling through the same lens. He doesn’t support an expansion of slot machines and has warned congressional lawmakers several times that he will veto any bill that counters his opinion.

Legislators are also discussing the possible launch of bingo halls and additional casinos, both land-based and online. Bolsonaro let Brazilians know what he really thinks about them when he commented on this. He said, “I think Brazil is not yet mature enough to discuss that.”

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