Brazilian Football Clubs Hit Back At Senate's Advertising Restrictions

November 14, 2023
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Brazil’s leading football teams have voiced strong exception to the advertising amendment attached to a sports-betting bill last week by the Senate’s sports committee that would ban gambling sponsorships, penning a letter protesting the restrictions.
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Brazil’s leading football teams have voiced strong exception to the advertising amendment attached to a sports-betting bill last week by the Senate’s sports committee that would ban gambling sponsorships, penning a letter protesting the restrictions.

The amendment in question, approved by the Senate committee last week over the objections of its chairman Romário, would restrict all broadcast or social media advertising of sports betting to between midnight and 6am.

Of greater consequence to the teams, however, is the amendment that also bans the advertisement of any fixed-odds betting in sports arenas, or through the sponsorship of teams and tournaments.

Both former and current athletes are also banned from promoting betting operators, which would spell trouble for many of Brazil's past and current stars, including football icons Ronaldinho and Neymar. 

The justification for the amendment, as written by its author Senator Eduardo Girão, is to “prevent celebrities and influential people from exploiting their reputation in the sports world to influence new bettors”.

The 33 football teams that signed the letter to senators, which include all of Brazil's Serie A teams, stated: “The complete ban suggested by the Sports Committee ... would not only be unsuccessful for the purpose proposed, but would also represent complete and irreparable damage to Brazilian football's main current source of revenue.”

Of the 40 teams in Serie A and B, 39 already have some kind of sponsorship deal with a sports-betting platform.

Approval of the amendment by the Senate's sports committee is not final, as Bill PL 3626/2023 still has to be voted on by the Senate's economic affairs committee, as well as the Senate plenary, which is expected to occur sometime in the next ten days, according to local media. 

The bill must also be approved again by the Chamber of Deputies. 

Rafael Marchetti Marcondes, legal director of Brazilian betting trade association IBJR, as well as Brazilian fantasy sports operator Rei do Pitaco, told Vixio GamblingCompliance that he does not think the Senate sports committee's vote is cause for concern, thanks to the efforts of the teams.

The football clubs that are signatories to the letter “have influence and can make a lot of noise. I don't think this ad limitation will go forward,” he said.

Udo Seckelmann, a betting lawyer at Bichara e Motta in Brazil, said that he is uncertain how much lobbying power sports clubs have in Congress, but that their power to attract press attention is undeniable.

The bottom line, Seckelmann said, is sports teams “are really afraid of losing the money sponsorships inject into the clubs”.

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