Brazil's Online Betting Bill Passes To Senate Floor

November 23, 2023
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The Brazilian Senate’s economic affairs committee voted on Wednesday to approve its version of a pending sports-betting bill, after a move to remove casino games from the legislation was rebuffed by senators.
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The Brazilian Senate’s economic affairs committee (CAE) voted on Wednesday (November 22) to approve its version of a pending sports-betting bill, after a move to remove casino games from the legislation was rebuffed by senators.

Bill PL 3626/23 will now go before the full Senate plenary for approval and then will need approval from both the Chamber of Deputies and President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Crafted by rapporteur Angelo Coronel, the amended bill’s highlights include a reduction of the headline tax rate of 18 percent of gross gaming revenue to 12 percent. After municipal taxes and social security, the overall effective rate would be between 23 and 26 percent. 

The move was heavily campaigned for by the gambling industry, with operators insisting that previously approved rates in the Chamber of Deputies of nearly 30 percent would discourage black-market operators from going through with the licensing process. 

Fixed-odd bets on “virtual online gaming events”, or online casino games, also remain in the CAE’s version of the bill, although they were omitted by the Senate sports committee's version of the bill earlier this month.

The committee's move to approve the bill came after a group of four senators insisted upon voting on an amendment to remove online casino games from the scope of the legislation, which was ultimately rejected.

A request to delay the committee vote was also denied, and instead an urgency classification was re-attached to the bill to ensure it was brought up promptly on the Senate floor.

The urgency provision technically put the bill on the Senate's agenda for Wednesday evening.

However, Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco declared that another urgent matter would be addressed first, putting PL 3626/2023 second on the docket and instead set to be brought up for discussion next Tuesday (November 28).

Coronel published a video on his Twitter account after the committee vote, restating his long-standing view that legalisation of gambling is good for the Brazilian economy. 

“I always say that we're not inventing gambling; it already exists in the country. So what are we legalizing it for? So that they can come out of hiding, and the Brazilian people will gain from this because the government will have more resources to invest in social areas,” he said.

Coronel assured his peers earlier this week that he had worked in conjunction with the leadership of the Chamber of Deputies and Lula’s office to make sure that his version was aligned with their vision, to hasten the publication of the bill.

Whether Coronel's version of the bill moves smoothly through the Senate plenary and then the lower house remains to be seen, however, with a key role still to be played by Chamber of Deputies Speaker Arthur Lira, who is arguably the most powerful politician in Brazil. 

If Lira is not happy with the Senate’s version of the bill, history would suggest that it will not be the version that ultimately lands on Lula’s desk.

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