Jair Bolsonaro Fails to Sign Bill Legalizing Brazil Sports Betting During Final Days in Office

  • President Jair Bolsonaro did not sign off on plans for a sports betting market
  • Bolsonaro is being replaced by Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on New Year’s Day
  • A plan to create a state-run lottery could help sports betting gain steam
  • Lawmakers have already approved of plans for casino, poker, and bingo markets
Jair Bolsonaro with his arms crossed
Brazil sports betting is dead now that Jair Bolsonaro didn’t sign off on legislation before its expiration date. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Years of work down the drain

Brazil sports betting is dead once again as outbound president Jair Bolsonaro failed to sign regulations before they expired Monday.

deadline for the extension concluded on Monday, December 12

South America’s largest nation has attempted to create a legal sports betting market for years. It passed Federal Law No. 13,756/2018 four years ago, leaving the government two years (plus another two, if needed), to pass regulations for online and in-person sports wagering. The deadline for the extension concluded on Monday, December 12, 2022.

The failure to adopt legislation will be one of Bolsonaro’s final moves in office. He has already lost the presidential election to former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and will be ousted at the turn of the year.

Brazil still without sports betting 

There had been optimism that the Bolsonaro-led regime would finally bring fixed-odds betting to Brazil. Earlier this year, the Secretariat of Evaluation, Planning, Energy and Lottery (SECAP) published a plan for the market, which included a $4.4m license fee. All of that was in vain, however, as sports betting is now back at the drawing board.

rise of illegal operators is becoming a headache

Brazil’s inbound president, known commonly as “Lulu,” will have to take charge of a messy situation. Bolsonaro, first and foremost, has a spirited following that has wreaked havoc on the country in the wake of the election results, including a recent attack of a police headquarters likened to the January 6 riots.

Brazilian law also currently forbids most forms of gambling, but just like in many other countries around the world, the rise of illegal operators is becoming a headache for officials.

The only forms of legal gambling, as it stands, are the state-run lottery and horse race betting. However, offshore sportsbooks have been able to avoid persecution by resting in the many gray areas of Brazil’s existing law, which is another reason the country was looking towards passing new legislation.

Despite the recent failure in government, Brazilian-owned operators may be able to join the sports betting market through an impending move to end Caixa Econômica Federal’s monopoly over the lottery. The details could get messy, though.

Reason for hope

A plan passed by both chambers in Brazil’s legislature calls for the creation of a Health Lottery and Tourism Lottery, which would send proceeds from lottery sales to two state funds.

could open the door to Brazilian businesses replacing their overseas counterparts

The private lottery may be able to offer fixed-odds betting through the new plan, though that is not a guarantee. If it does, it could open the door to Brazilian businesses replacing their overseas counterparts in providing betting odds for the public.

The country is also making serious strides in other areas of gambling. House of Representatives Bill No. 442/1991, approved in February, would legalize casino, online gaming, slot machines, bingo and jogo de bicho and expand horse race betting markets.

Foreign operators would be prohibited under the bill. License holders would need to be located in Brazil, thereby bringing autonomy back to the Brazilian people.

Brazil already missed out on a chance to drive betting participation through the roof during the World Cup, where its national team was favored to win the competition. However, a quarter-final exit to Croatia ensures that no matter how fast legislation is adopted, locals will need to wait another four years to support their team at the tournament.

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