Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva's election as President of Brazil should not alter the landscape for gambling expansion in Brazil and leaves open a window for sports betting to become regulated before the end of this year, according to experts speaking at the SBC Summit Latinoamerica in Miami on Tuesday (November 1).
Luiz Felipe Maia, gambling law expert and partner at Maia Yoshiyasu in Sao Paulo, said the biggest window of opportunity will come in the next two months, before Jair Bolsonaro leaves office on December 31.
It is during this time that a deadline for the government to adopt regulations to implement a 2018 sports-betting law will expire on December 12. It is also a period when the ousted Bolsonaro will no longer be beholden to his bloc of evangelical support, the faction his supporters cited in Congress as the reason that he did sign a regulatory decree for the sports-betting law before the election.
“For the current government there are no political consequences to addressing this because they don’t lose anything,” said Maia, who also revealed that sports betting and gambling are on the agenda for the transition committee that will oversee the change of power.
Maia explained that although these two months present the greatest opportunity both to sign a regulatory decree and gain traction for a larger pending gambling bill to authorize land-based and online gaming, it is also an opportunity that can be easily squandered.
Without a coordinated effort between multiple organizations, he said that legislation will not move forward.
“We have local groups, traditional operators, lotteries in Brazil, casinos, and other stakeholders lobbying in different directions,” Maia said. “While there are different directions nothing is going to happen.”
Thomas Cavalhaes, director of Curaçao-based operator Brazil One Bet, offered a more pessimistic outlook for gambling legislation in the current session of Congress.
Even with the election of Lula, he told VIXIO GamblingCompliance that nothing will change. “I’m all in. It’s not going to happen. I put all my chips on it.”
There is a school of thought that, unlike Bolsonaro, Lula will not oppose expanded gambling legislation should Congress pass it, although that does not mean the President-elect will be an active champion.
“There’s been so many good projects and good proposals for sports betting to be regulated, for gambling which will be legalized and eventually regulated as well, but they are lacking traction,” Cavalhaes told VIXIO GamblingCompliance.
“I know Brazil, I understand how politics move in Brazil, and I’ve heard so many failed predictions. I always stood my ground, because I see the political movement not happening.”
Maia, on the other hand, said during an SBC panel sponsored by the International Masters of Gaming Law (IMGL) that the current expectation is that Bolsonaro will at least sign off on a sports-betting regulatory decree in December.
Udo Seckelmann, a sports lawyer at Bicharra & Motto, noted there is a saying that perhaps sums it up best in Brazil: “Even the past is uncertain.”