An investigation into betting sponsorships and advertising by Brazil’s national consumer protection secretariat Senacon appears to have slowed, amid word from insiders that some of the implicated sports teams will refuse to hand over copies of their partnership contracts.
Senacon launched a surprise investigation into the relationships between Brazilian football clubs, football tournaments and the Rede Globo media group and online betting operators on August 30. At the time, the teams, leagues and Globo were given ten days to turn over the relevant requested documentation — namely copies of contracts with gambling firms.
A series of high-profile sponsorship deals between football teams and betting companies currently exist without explicit legal permission, although some lawyers have argued they are allowed due to a federal law from December 2018, which recognised fixed-odds betting as a lawful form of lottery game in Brazil.
Some of the 54 entities requested a postponement of an additional ten days, which was granted by the agency that sits within the Ministry of Justice.
The time it took Senacon to rule on the request and grant the extensions means that the named organisations have not yet missed the 20-day deadline to turn over the information.
But even with an extended deadline, it is understood that not all the teams and others are willing to play ball.
According to Fellipe Fraga, COO of EstrelaBet, who spoke on the matter at the SBC Barcelona Summit: “The Ministry of Justice does not have power of the police, and they cannot demand, as they demanded, [to see] the clubs’ contracts. It was not correct, but they used it to try to push.”
Fraga did say that some clubs will comply regardless.
“Many of the clubs, many of the involved parties, paid attention, because the price of the sponsorships has gotten so high. For example, Flamengo [football club] received 19 million reals ($3.5m) from a brand here and that goes up to 24 million reals ($4.5m) from a sports-betting company. So they paid attention.”
Luiz Felipe Maia, gaming expert and founding partner at Maia Yoshiyasu law firm in Sao Paulo, explained the legal thinking behind those teams who will comply with the federal investigation and those who may not.
“I think Senacon has powers as it relates to consumer protection. That's the scope of their mandate, but the problem is they're asking for the full copies of the agreements or the sponsorship agreements which don't necessarily relate to consumer protection,” Maia said.
“One can argue that they should ask questions relating to the scope of their mandate, instead of asking for confidential documents."