Experts on Latin American gaming are divided over when a regulatory framework for sports betting might be implemented in Brazil, with one operator warning that over-confidence could mislead investors and damage the industry’s reputation.
An SBC webinar on January 31 heard that whether or not regulation comes into force in 2023, the market is powering ahead.
Whether the market is regulated or not, the “sleeping giant has awoken”, said Andre Gelfi, Betsson Group’s managing partner in Brazil.
Gelfi told the panel that unique site visits from January to November 2022 jumped from 130m to 270m.
“Fifty percent of the market now is run by national companies in Brazil based offshore, but [from] national players operating in Brazilian markets, and investing massive amounts on marketing in Brazil.”
Martin Lycka, head of American regulatory affairs and responsible gambling at Entain, lamented that former President Jair Bolsonaro did not sign a regulatory decree to implement a 2018 sports-betting law before he left office at the end of 2022.
“He’s done his country a disservice and the reason I'm saying that, brushing aside all the economic and other considerations … is that there is already an existing and thriving sports-betting market in Brazil. But I do believe that 2023 will be the year of at least sports-betting regulation in Brazil,” he said.
The panellists said a decree cannot be expected anytime soon, while Thomas Carvalhaes of operator VaiDeBob said he does not expect it will happen this year.
Carvalhaes said that if he were an investor, he too would be frustrated at this point over broken promises of regulation.
He said that to understand the delays, one needs to understand Brazilian politics.
Until politicians understand the amount of jobs and revenue that regulation will bring, regulation will not happen, he said.
To avoid frustration, Carvalhaes urged caution.
“We need to be mindful when we tell investors or other people that Brazil is going to get regulated because by doing that, we're encouraging a lot of investment, we’re encouraging people to put their hard earned money here.”
But “then the market doesn't get regulated and then we look even worse than we already do”.
Carvalhaes finished his comments by echoing Gelfi’s statement that the market “is evolving by itself, with or without regulation”.