ICE London: Brazil’s first regulated sports betting and igaming operators live by July; first licensees announced in March

February 6, 2024 2:03 PM
Photo: CDC Gaming Reports
  • David Cook, Special to CDC Gaming Reports
February 6, 2024 2:03 PM
  • David Cook, Special to CDC Gaming Reports

The regulated sports-betting and online-casino market in Brazil is expected to be live by July, with the first licensees likely to be revealed in March, an advisor to the Brazilian Ministry of Finance has confirmed.

Brazil’s President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, ratified a new regulatory framework for sports betting and igaming in December, after Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies voted to approve Bill 3,626/2023.

This was the culmination of a long process of attempting to regulate sports betting. A previous bill was initially passed by the Senate in 2018, but former President Jair Bolsonaro never signed off on any legislation before leaving office at the end of 2022. Igaming was added back into the bill after initially being removed.

Well-known brands including Bet365, Betfair, and Betsson already operate in the country, but will not be able to under the terms of the legislation, which bans international operators from obtaining a license. It is as yet unclear whether international operators can partner with established domestic operators to gain license approval, but the launch later this year is expected to give those operators time to establish a framework in the country.

Speaking at ICE London on Tuesday, José Francisco Manssur, special advisor to the Brazilian Ministry of Finance, outlined the timeline for when the first operators will launch in the regulated market, with authorization expected in March for the first window, before second and third windows open thereafter.

Manssur said, “We are working to open the first window in March and comply with what the legislature imposed, which is having companies authorized to launch in July.

“The list of authorized operators will be confirmed in one announcement and no one will be forced to start collecting taxes [12% of gross gaming revenue] before the first window. The second window will run from October to December and from that point, we will publish authorized operators on a standalone basis. We will open a third window after that point.”

In October, the Ministry of Finance granted a period of 30 days for companies to present a non-binding prior expression of interest in offering fixed-odds betting in the country, with a total of 134 operators choosing to do so.

“This allowed us to precisely measure the size of the market,” Manssur said. “I want to be clear that companies that did not participate in that process will not be able to launch in the first window. All companies that did submit an expression of interest will have their application evaluated by the end of the first window.”

Licenses will last for up to five years, with licensees paying R$30m (US$6m) to operate up to three brands.

Ari Celia, adviser & board member at payment provider Pay4Fun, stressed the importance of learning from previous mistakes. Bingo was legalized in Brazil in 1993, but was banned by 2004.

“Brazilians will remember that the bingo operation only lasted 10 years due to a series of problems,” he said. “We had to wait a long time for this new legislation and the objective for everyone now is to create a market for many years. Regulation has to be inclusive in every aspect. I don’t think anyone expects perfect regulation, but it should adapt as we go on like we’ve seen in more mature markets in Europe and North America.”