Sports Betting Legislation Takes a Step Forward in São Paulo, Brazil

Posted on: November 22, 2022, 11:28h. 

Last updated on: November 22, 2022, 12:11h.

The mayor of São Paulo, Brazil, Ricardo Nunes, wants to turn the city into an investment hub for the installation of betting and fantasy gaming companies. To help his cause, a bill that will cap the tax on gaming operators is in the works and could find approval this week.

Mayor of São Paulo, Brazil, Ricardo Nunes
Mayor of São Paulo, Brazil, Ricardo Nunes, in a photo taken in his office. The city leader is pushing a bill that could help São Paulo become a hub for gaming companies. (Image: Carta Capital)

In the text of the project, Nunes specifies a Tax on Services of Any Nature (ISS, for its Portuguese acronym) in certain commercial segments. The main objective is to attract and retain companies whose establishments have “high mobility.”

Among these are companies that offer the management and services of sports betting, raffles, prizes, and similar products. After its introduction less than a month ago, the bill is making swift progress and is waiting for the City Council to greenlight it.

Laying Down Roots in São Paulo

The idea of turning the city into a hub for gaming operators reportedly received inspiration from Entain. At the end of September, representatives from the company met with Nunes, where they allegedly pitched the idea.

Soon after, a lawyer specializing in gaming law, Luis Felipe Maia, and São Paulo Councilman Fabio Riva put the plan in motion, according to local media. They laid the groundwork for what would ultimately become the city’s legislative initiative.

Riva emphasized the importance of a competitive ISS rate to the city so that it can attract large international companies in the sector. He added that their arrival will bring new income and jobs to the city, providing relief on two fronts.

The São Paulo City Council approved the bill when it made its first appearance. It establishes an ISS rate of 2% for sports betting, lotteries, bingos, and other forms of gambling.

The council’s second meeting is scheduled for this week. As long as there are no last-minute objections and city leaders approve the measure, it would then go to Nunes for his signature.

Expanded Gambling in Brazil Still Uncertain

Some Brazilian lawmakers have been pushing for expanded gambling for years, but have had difficulty getting past President Jair Bolsonaro. Now that he’s on his way out the door, making way for the return of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, there’s optimism that things will change.

Bolsonaro, while willing to sign off on certain types of gambling expansion, emphatically rejected the idea of legal sports betting on several occasions. He said he would veto any attempt, should legislation reach his desk.

Lula is more flexible. He recently said that he would respect whatever decision the country’s National Congress took. In other words, if they agree to expand gambling and sports betting in Brazil, he is ready to back them.

A bill that would legalize fixed odds betting is in place and has to reach its conclusion by December 12. So far, there’s no indication that it will fail.

Another bill that the Chamber of Deputies approved in February, but which is stuck in the Senate, could also make progress. Local media recently reported that the chamber is following up on the legislation now that the presidential elections are over.