According to sources within the Ministry of Finance, a provisional measure to enact Brazil’s 2018 sports betting law may be coming before the end of the month, in addition to a supplemental bill that would follow after the congressional July recess, as a political tug-of-war continues between rival camps.
At the SiGMA Americas conference in São Paulo last week, José Francisco Manssur, special advisor to the Executive Secretariat of the Ministry of Finance, said that he hoped that the provisional measure would be published by the end of the month.
A regular bill would still be coming after the congressional recess and the conclusion of the parliamentary investigation (CPI) into match fixing that is due to conclude in September.
A provisional measure signed by the president would take immediate effect and enable the Ministry of Finance to immediately publish implementing regulations for fixed-odds sports betting, although it would still require congressional approval.
The news is the latest in a series of back and forth battles between Brazil's Chamber of Deputies led by centrist Arthur Lira and the Ministry of Finance of President Lula da Silva, in a power struggle over how to implement sports betting.
A plan to enact a provisional measure was held up at the eleventh hour before its publication in May, with reports indicating that Lula's administration would bow to pressure from Lira to introduce regular legislation. Now, policymakers will reportedly proceed on both tracks.
What would fall under the purview of the provisional measure and what would be a part of the new sports betting bill remains a mystery.
“Apparently Arthur Lira wants to have control on what is going to be established in this law,” said gambling lawyer Udo Seckelmann of Bicharra e Motta.
“I don't know if he wants to add some things, I don't know if he wants to exclude some things that he's not happy with. He basically doesn't want to put a lot of power in the hands of the President.”
Treating sports-betting legislation as a regular bill rather than an emergency measure generally vests more power in both the Chamber of Deputies and Senate, as the bill will be considered independently in each house rather than through a single joint commission made up of both deputies and senators.
Arthur Lira or any of his congressional allies have yet to comment on this new development, despite officials from the Ministry of Finance publicly stating that the provisional measure will be published by the end of the month.
Whether that actually happens is another matter entirely but it should become more clear, Seckelmann says, by next week.
Finance minister Fernando Haddad, for his part, has other reasons for needing the provisional measure: his budget plan relies on the expected tax revenue from the legal sports-betting market.
Once cited by officials to be as high as R$10-15bn (US$2-3.13bn), the tax revenue estimate cited by officials has dropped to between R$1-2b (US$210m-420m).
Those lower figures are closer to VIXIO GamblingCompliance’s forecast that the regulated market will generate approximately US$656m in gross revenue in its first year, before reaching US$2.2bn in year five of operations.