Brazil Online Gambling Bill Begins Senate Scrutiny

October 6, 2023
The sports committee in Brazil’s Senate has received almost 50 proposed amendments to the sports betting and online gaming bill approved by the lower house of Congress last month, with the suggested changes ranging from eliminating casino games to extending the term of licences from three to five years. 

The sports committee in Brazil’s Senate has received almost 50 proposed amendments to the sports betting and online gaming bill approved by the lower house of Congress last month, with the suggested changes ranging from eliminating casino games to extending the term of licenses from three to five years.

A total of 49 proposed amendments were submitted before an October 4 deadline by senators, who have a total of 45 days to consider the bill.

Unlike the Chamber of Deputies, which spent more than 45 days sitting on the bill and then just one day debating and voting on it, the Senate is expected to process the bill far more deliberately. 

Bill PL 3626/2023 will be considered first by Senate committees on sports and economic affairs before later being brought up for a vote on the Senate floor. In contrast, the chamber bypassed the committee process and went straight for a vote by all deputies.

A Senate rapporteur for the bill has not yet been appointed, but it is expected to be football legend turned Rio de Janeiro senator Romário. He is currently the rapporteur for the bill in the Senate’s sports commission.

The role of the rapporteur is a highly influential one as it involves consolidating proposed amendments to a bill and essentially redrafting it before the measure is submitted for either a committee or floor vote.

Former Brazil and FC Barcelona star Romário has not given an indication of which way he leans when it comes to online gambling and sports-betting regulation generally, although he did submit three amendments to a separate sports-betting bill earlier this year. 

One of Romário's amendments would have outlawed betting on individual actions such as yellow cards and corner kicks in games to avoid match-fixing. He also called for provisions to limit advertising on television and radio to between the hours of 9pm and 6am, while prohibiting advertising during games, on team paraphernalia or within sports stadiums.

Among the 49 proposed amendments to sports-betting and online gaming bill PL 3626/2023 was Senator Soraya Thronicke's amendment so that operating licences “may, at the discretion of the Ministry of Finance, be granted with a term of up to five years”. The term of a licence costing R$30m, or roughly US$6m, was lowered from five to three years at the last minute before the bill was approved by the lower house.

Thronicke wrote that “the grant period is a key factor in ensuring that a greater number of people are interested in acquiring the licenses. As things stand it will be a limiting factor for companies, as it will not allow for the maximum return on investment.”

Senator Nelsinho Trad submitted an amendment with the same request, with similar reasoning. 

Meanwhile, Senator Eduardo Girão submitted an amendment opposing the inclusion of casino games in the sports-betting bill, calling for “removing the possibility of bets based on ‘virtual events’, to refute the possibility of interpretation that the law extends legality to casino games”.

Senator Rogério Carvalho penned an amendment to lower taxes in the promotion of “channelisation”, while Senator Ciro Nogueira asked for licensing criteria to be established to give preference to Brazilian operators already based in the country as opposed to offshore companies opening up a local subsidiary. 

Many senators submitted more technical amendments to clarify the existing text, or asked for a small percentage of funding to be allocated to various projects in the senators’ favour.

The fixed-odds betting bill is expected to be considered concurrently by the Senate committees on sports and economic affairs, where Senator Jorge Karaju of Goiás has said he will serve in the role of rapporteur but that has not yet confirmed.

The Senate’s 45 days will end on November 11, after which time its ability to pass any other bills will be blocked until it considers the sports-betting bill.

Additional reporting by James Kilsby.

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