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Brazil to Require Sportsbook Companies to Set Up Shop in the CountryBy Jeff Osienya Mar 13, 2023 LegalityBrazilian legislators are working to pass a sports betting regulation bill compelling all online sportsbook operators in the country to have local headquarters. Brazil wants to ensure it benefits from a widespread activity that’s not adequately regulated.
Online sports betting companies operating in Brazil will now be under obligation to have physical locations within the country before they can be allowed to conduct business. In addition, the Brazilian finance ministry issued a statement declaring that the companies would also have to develop oversight mechanisms that would help mitigate fraud and manipulation of match results.
Offshore bookmakers have been the biggest beneficiaries of Brazil’s unregulated sports betting industry as proceeds from the gaming revenue have remained untaxed. Last week, Brazil’s Finance Minister Fernando Haddad disclosed to Reuters that the move would ensure that betting firms are taxed to help “boost fiscal revenue to offset increased social spending.”
Political Environment to Blame for Delay in Regulation
Plans to establish a legal framework to oversee the sports betting industry were officially launched in 2018 by then-President Michel Temer with the caveat of having sports betting regulations published by 2020. However, the ratification process was stalled during Temer’s successor’s term, ensuring that foreign companies continued to thrive on account of Brazil’s lucrative market.
The final deadline for a regulatory framework passed on December 12th, 2022, with no action from the outgoing head of state. Bolsonaro had earlier shown signs of signing a sports betting bill into law but indicated that he was generally opposed to gambling. His concern was that sports betting would open the doors for a series of games of chance like bingo and casino games.
Some analysts have concluded that being in the Conservative Party, Bolsonaro abandoned the sports betting agenda to gain political support from religious entities during his bid to get re-elected in 2022.
Discussions for New Sports Betting Legislation Underway
The lack of a regulatory framework to govern sports gambling practices in Brazil has meant that players were at the mercy of the laws of the countries where gaming operators are registered. As such, there has always been a loophole in the justice system in case things go wrong.
Thus, Brazilian players will now be relieved to learn that some headway is being made on the legal front. Haddad, the Finance Minister, is spearheading a sports betting bill that, if passed, will compensate for the recent rise in minimum tax as mandated by newly elected President Lila da Silva. Moreover, in an interview with the Brazillian UOL, the Minister announced his intent to regulate sports betting in LatAm’s largest country. Finance Minister Haddad said in part:Quote
“I will regulate online gambling. The [offshore sportsbooks] don’t pay any taxes and take a fortune of money from the country... Online gambling is subject to taxes all over the world, it can’t be different in Brazil.”
He added that the amount of potential tax revenue leaving the country was ‘absurd,’ citing that the government had no control of the offshore operators because they had no physical establishments. He also reported that the strategy was to reel in the online casinos by having them set up brick-and-mortar premises which are more manageable and can be subjected to the laws of the land.
The Minister’s statement was followed by immediate action by President of the National Tourism Forum Felipe Carreras, who has started sourcing for the 171 signatures required from deputies. The signatures are necessary to create a commission to vet and consider the bill under review before it can be forwarded to Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.
That said, lawmakers are taking it one step at a time by starting the legislative process by first attempting to regulate sports betting at land-based casinos, as indicated in the bill. This will lay some groundwork for coming up with regulations to govern the online sports betting market.
Carreras has been a proponent of regulated sports betting for years and is the original author of the tabled bill. For starters, he has repeatedly raised concerns about match-fixing, which has been considered a big threat to the integrity of sports in Brazil. Fortunately, the proposed changes to the industry’s structure will no doubt nip such vices in the bud. In a recent report, Carreras pointed out:Quote
“The manipulation of results in Brazilian football matches is becoming more and more evident. There are speculations and insinuations that outside agents are acting to interfere in matches. We are seeing dissatisfaction from all sides. In Europe, we had proven cases after investigations. Brazil is not immune; it is at the apex of a nebulous environment. Let’s act.”
Regulation Means More Taxable Income and Employment for Brazil
According to the Finance Ministry, about 450 sportsbooks and casino platforms are currently operating in Brazil. However, most are based outside the country’s jurisdiction, meaning the LatAm nation is losing hundreds of millions in potential tax revenue. It is estimated that if online sportsbooks are taxed, they would bring in between $387 million and $1.16 billion in annual revenue for the state.
If the efforts by legislators like Haddad bear fruit in the course of the year, the sports betting market in the region will finally benefit the country directly and eventually boost the economy. There would also be some 200,000 jobs created as a result of regulating the sports betting industry in Brazil.
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