Brazil Senate Puts Sports Betting and iGaming Discussion on Hold

Posted on: November 30, 2023, 06:44h. 

Last updated on: November 30, 2023, 10:48h.

The Brazilian Senate has done it once again. It figured out a new way to delay a vote on a sports betting and iGaming bill, pushing back even further the legislative process that has stalled the project.

The Brazil Senate chamber sits empty
The Brazil Senate chamber sits almost empty. It has once again postponed a vote on sports betting legislation. (Image: Brazil Senate)

Brazil’s Senate plenary was to vote Wednesday on the bill, aimed at regulating the fixed-odds sports betting market and online casinos. Instead, according to an announcement on its website, it decided to table the discussion one more time.

There had been a small glimmer of hope that the Senate would make progress and send the bill back to the Chamber of Deputies in November. That is no longer a possibility, nor is it clear when the Senate will hold its vote.

Anti-Gambling Senators Continue Block

The primary point of contention revolves around the inclusion of online casinos in the bill, particularly drawing criticism from opposition senators. The opposing group asserts that the proposed legislation lacks proper regulation for the online casino sector, and voices concerns over the absence of clear guidelines for the supervision of online gambling.

Senator Ângelo Coronel, the bill’s rapporteur, argues that the iGaming segment holds significant potential for contributing to the government’s revenue, and therefore, shouldn’t be excluded. The Ministry of Finance estimates that the proposed legislation could generate approximately R$2 billion (US$407.6 million) for the government in 2024.

In response to the opposition’s concerns, Senator Veneziano Vital do Rêgo, the vice-president of the Senate, presided over the session in the absence of Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco. The latter is currently in Dubai for COP 28, the United Nations Conference on Climate Change.

At the request of the opposition, the Senate called off the vote, and no specific date for resuming the voting process has been set. It’s expected the vote will be added to the schedule upon Pacheco’s return next week.

This delay, one of many the Senate has implemented, is causing apprehension within the government, as the bill is a key priority for the economic team in their efforts to boost revenue in 2024.

More Debate Ahead

Coronel has introduced several modifications to the proposal. Should the text receive approval by the Senate, the Chamber of Deputies still has to receive it for further examination and approve it as well.

The bill proposes a 12% tax on sports betting companies, down from the previous 18%. Additionally, it suggests a 15% personal income tax on bettors’ net winnings. This would be deducted annually and applicable only to earnings surpassing the exemption line of BRL2,112 (US$430).

Furthermore, the project outlines the establishment of advertising regulations within the sports betting and iGaming sectors. Overseeing the creation of the ad regulations would be the Ministry of Finance, which will also assume the responsibility of supervising all betting and gambling activities.

The legislative discussions resurfaced in Congress amid a Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry that is scrutinizing the sports betting market. The inquiry follows investigations that have uncovered evidence of companies in the gaming sector, and others, deliberately manipulating the outcomes of soccer matches.

That inquiry, as well as an investigation by Brazilian authorities, continues. A number of soccer players have already been identified as participants in the scheme. But more names will likely surface in the coming weeks.