Brazil Match-Fixing Panel Probes Plan for Sports-Betting Regulation

June 29, 2023
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A senior figure in Brazil's Ministry of Finance testified before a congressional investigative commission on match-fixing on Tuesday, using the time to reassure members that both a bill and an emergency measure to regulate sports betting would be introduced before a parliamentary recess next month.

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A senior figure in Brazil's Ministry of Finance testified before a congressional investigative commission on match fixing on Tuesday (June 27), using the time to reassure members that both a bill and an emergency measure to regulate sports betting would be introduced before a parliamentary recess next month.

José Francisco Manssur, special advisor to the Ministry of Finance, spoke publicly of the government's plans to finally establish a regulated market, as deputies raised concerns that past deadlines have come and gone with no regulation, while popular online casino games are set to remain unregulated.

Manssur testified that both a so-called provisional measure and accompanying bill to implement sports betting would be introduced in Congress “in the coming days”.

The two-track approach to regulation is necessary, Manssur said, “because there are issues that cannot be regulated by provisional measure, as is the case with the minister [of finance] Fernando Haddad's determination regarding the creation of the National Secretariat for Games and Lotteries, which will be in charge of regulating not only fixed-odds bets, but also everything that is incumbent upon the federal government related to gaming and lotteries in general. This issue, for example, should be addressed by a bill.”

According to Manssur, after the provisional measure is issued, the Ministry of Finance will begin publishing more specific regulatory ordinances that officials have already been at work on these past few months.

The first of these will address the accreditation of sports-betting operators.

Manssur reiterated that approved sports-betting operators must be headquartered in Brazil and must employ a minimum number of Brazilians.

Other ordinances will follow, including one to regulate the collection of taxes from sports betting.

Additional regulatory decrees are set to address responsible gaming and match-fixing and other risks of betting integrity — an area of central importance to the match-fixing commission.

Manssur said Brazil, once regulations are in place, will establish a central warning system to flag potentially suspicious betting activities.

“If a game in a certain sports competition or championship, on a scale of 1 to 5, reaches a suspicion standard higher than 2, for example, we will be able to preventively order it to be removed,” Manssur told the congressional commission.

“Afterwards, we will be able to activate the Ministry of Justice, and the Ministry of Justice will be able to activate the judicial and police authorities, to do what is already done today, which is to investigate cases in which there is strong evidence.”

Federal deputies on the commission voiced their concern that the offshore market has been allowed to continue to operate while the Brazilian government labours in its attempts to implement a law on fixed-odds sports betting that was first approved in December 2018.

Online casinos, which will not be regulated along with sports betting, were also raised as an area of concern.

Deputy Marcelo Álvaro Antônio told fellow commission members that lawmakers “need to understand how the government is going to curb casino activity in Brazil, which is illegal, a crime, and is already happening in large volumes. There are more than three billion hits on these sites.”

Manssur told deputies that online casino would not form part of the regulatory framework as it was not legalised alongside fixed-odds sports betting and the government lacked legal authority to do so.

He acknowledged concerns that most online sportsbooks active in Brazil currently also offer casino games on their websites.

“From the moment that we have regulations, we are going to have the power and legal instruments to prohibit these sites from doing this. They won't be able to do it anymore,” Manssur said.

A degree of scepticism also greeted Manssur’s assurances that after four and half years, a provisional measure is finally coming to implement the 2018 sports-betting law.

“How many provisional measures have expired here in the Chamber of Deputies? How many have already been rejected?” asked Deputy Marcelo Álvaro Antônio. “We cannot have an expectation of approval or regulation — which are not guaranteed — and let crimes of illegal exploitation of activities, such as gambling, occur in Brazil.”

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