Brazil may have missed an initial two-year deadline to regulate online sports betting but should be able to achieve that goal by the second half of 2021, a key government official said Tuesday.
Speaking at the Brazilian Gaming Congress, the point man for lotteries and sports betting within the country’s Ministry of Economy said officials were looking to accelerate implementation of a regulatory regime as Brazil approaches the second anniversary of a law that legalised online and retail fixed-odds sports betting.
When exactly the market will be regulated depends on a formal schedule that will be drawn up by Brazil’s public development bank (BNDES), which has been tapped to steer a concession process, said Waldir Eustáquio Marques Jr., the ministry’s undersecretary for lotteries and sweepstakes.
“We are working hard to get that date, that commitment,” Waldir Jr. said. “But I’m hopeful it won’t be past July next year.”
A new lotteries law signed by former President Michel Temer on December 12, 2018 recognised sports betting as a lawful form of lottery game in Brazil.
The law granted the economy ministry a window of two years to establish implementing regulations for both online and physical sports betting, but also allowed for officials to request an extension for up to a further two-year period.
Acknowledging that Brazil had missed the initial two-year deadline, Waldir Jr. said how to regulate sports betting was not a “simple question” as it involves close consideration of issues such as responsible gaming, anti-money laundering, advertising and sports integrity.
Officials also had to pivot to a concession model from their initial plan to establish a traditional licensing system, while the pandemic further slowed the process.
“Now it’s starting to accelerate again,” Waldir Jr. told delegates.
In August, President Jair Bolsonaro signed a decree to include concessions for sports betting in Brazil’s formal asset privatisation schedule and appointing BNDES to lead the process.
A working group of officials from the economy ministry, BNDES and Brazil’s privatisation agency now hold weekly meetings regarding sports betting, according to Waldir Jr.
Contracts should be signed as soon as this month to allow BNDES to begin consulting with the international market regarding the financial and legal criteria that will define the concession process.
BNDES will undertake detailed studies of the sports-betting marketplace and may even look again at the merits of a licensing versus concession regime, Waldir Jr. said.
He said a licensing, or “autorização” , model may be preferable for international investors but is more “precarious” under Brazilian law. On the other hand, a concession system would see the government and operators sign up to a series of clear commitments written into a contract.
Studies will determine how many concessions or licenses will be made available, with Waldir Jr. declining to speculate on what that number should be.
The 2018 law, as it stands, will require operators to pay certain regulatory fees and return a total of 3 percent of all online bets and 6 percent of retail turnover to specific causes, such as public security and Brazilian soccer clubs.
In the meantime, the law has already triggered an avalanche of marketing as fixed-odds sports betting is now considered a legal activity in Brazil so advertisers are no longer precluded from promoting sportsbook operations.
At least three quarters of the 20 clubs in Brazil’s Serie A football league now have a betting sponsor, according to recent estimates, while various international brands including Betfair and Betcris have sponsored pitch-side advertising hoardings during televised games.
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