Brazil Senate Mulls Lower Tax Rate As Sports-Betting Negotiations Continue

October 25, 2023
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Brazil’s Senate is deep in the trenches of negotiating amendments to a pending sports betting and online gaming bill, with two specialist committees meeting this week, but voting on the bill facing continued delays.
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Brazil’s Senate is deep in the trenches of negotiating amendments to a pending sports betting and online gaming bill, with two specialist committees meeting this week, but voting on the bill facing continued delays.

The Senate’s Sports Committee — one of the two committees that are currently considering the bill before it goes before the general Senate as a whole — held a marathon public hearing on Monday (October 23) to air out what turned out to be serious but familiar misgivings among senators about the text of the sports-betting bill. 

The Senate Economic Affairs Committee (CAE), in turn, held a similar public hearing on Thursday (October 19).

More conservative senators made their voices clearly heard, arguing that no form of gambling should not be regulated as a matter of morality.  

Senator Eduardo Girão, for example, suggested that sports betting be banned as it leads to an addiction worse than cigarettes, and asked the human rights committee to investigate. 

Experts on the ills of gambling addiction who spoke at the hearing defended the concept of regulation,  however.

Psychologist Ana Yaemi Hayashiuchi, who specialises in treating disorders including gambling addiction, said the lack of well-designed regulation in Brazil is allowing people to become addicted at an earlier age, including children.

The sports committee had been scheduled to follow its public hearing with a planned vote on a new version of bill PL 3626/2023 later on Wednesday (October 25), but that vote was abruptly postponed and removed from the committee's meeting agenda on Tuesday evening.

The two Senate committees are both due to mark-up and approve their own versions of the bill to submit for a definitive vote on the Senate floor, with the sports committee chairman Romário releasing his proposed version last week.

In contrast, the economic affairs committee still awaits rapporteur Angelo Coronel’s report on the bill, which is due to include various amendments from the version that was passed by the lower house of Brazil's Congress in mid-September. 

Speaking to Brazilian media last week, Coronel said he plans to lower the tax rate from 18 percent to 12 percent of gross gaming revenue (GGR) for sports betting, in an effort to prevent driving players to the black market. Online casino games would still be taxed, under Coronel’s plan, at 18 percent. 

The Bahia senator has also indicated that he wants to allow bettors to offset losses from any income taxes owed on winnings, similar to how Brazil treats day trading of stocks. 

Before the CAE meets again, Angelo Coronel and finance minister Fernando Haddad are reportedly due to sit down to negotiate details of what the senator will include in his report.

In other Brazil news, Haddad has also reportedly pushed the Brazil Attorney General’s Office (AGU) to limit any state-level licences issued by Rio de Janeiro’s state lottery LOTERJ to ensure that wagers could only be placed by players physically located within the borders of the state at the time of the transaction. 

LOTERJ changed course in July to enable players from across Brazil to bet via systems located in Rio, “to increase the economic viability of the process and the success of the operation of virtual lottery activities in the state of Rio de Janeiro”. 

LOTERJ's licensing fee is R$5m, with a monthly tax of 5 percent of gross betting revenue, much lower than the planned national equivalents.

Additional reporting by James Kilsby.

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