Brazilian Influencers Under Investigation For Illegal Gambling Promotion

March 20, 2024
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Beauty and lifestyle influencers in Brazil’s Amazonian state of Acre are under investigation for promoting illegal gambling.
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Beauty and lifestyle influencers in Brazil’s Amazonian state of Acre are under investigation for promoting illegal gambling.

On Monday (March 18), the civil police of Acre announced an investigation called “Operation Jackpot”, which has so far targeted prominent influencers Rogéria Rocha, Juliana “Juh” Vellegas, Jéssica Ingrede, her husband Jordson Ferreira da Silva and Jamila Roysal. 

Between them the influencers have nearly a million social media followers and beneath softly lit photos of the women cavorting on the beach, glossy stills promoting face creams and booths at nightclubs are now comments from followers, such as: “Does anyone know if it’s true she was arrested?” and “Illegal gambling!”. 

“Knock, knock who is it? Federal Police” read yet another post from the past 24 hours.

Twelve other suspects are listed as being under investigation. 

The police searched 17 locations in the state, taking 13 cell phones and two vehicles that were allegedly bought with gambling winnings. 

“Despite being permitted, betting cannot yet be operated in Brazil due to the lack of specific regulations. The Civil Police continues to act to curb illegal practices and guarantee the safety of the population,” said Pedro Paulo Buzolin, the director of the Acre police department.

Brazil’s social media influencers notoriously hold enormous buying power with consumers.

According to the Statista Global Consumer Survey, close to half of Brazilians choose products based on celebrity and influencer endorsements, making it one of the top countries in the world for influencer marketing.

In late January, the Ministry of Finance was reportedly preparing a regulatory ordinance to control how influencers engage with gambling advertising in Brazil's forthcoming regulated market for sports betting and online casino games. 

That ordinance has not yet been published as the finance ministry's new Prizes and Betting Secretariat still lacks a head to sign off on any regulations.

According to a report at the time by Brazilian outlet Globo, the ordinance would make influencers directly responsible for any advertising they participate in that does not comply with Brazilian regulations, rather than putting the onus solely on operators that contract with them. 

The role of influencers in promoting certain online casino games in the offshore market has already been highlighted in several prominent newspaper articles. At least two states, Paraiba and Maranhao, have passed local laws to restrict influencers from promoting unlicensed online gambling.

Lauana Alencar, an influencer and doctor with 34,000 Instagram followers who was named in the Acre investigation, posted on Instagram on Tuesday to clear the air: “Surely if I am going to testify or be called to something before the justice system I will bring the facts here for you. On here this girl has nothing to hide, you know that here I am 100 percent.”

She finished: “I wish gambling paid for my luxuries, I wish I was winning those thousands that people imagine.”

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