Brazil: The Country Who Cried Sports Betting May Finally See Bill Approved

September 1, 2023
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Congressional leader Arthur Lira has announced that a sports-betting implementation bill will be voted on by September 9 in the Chamber of Deputies, clearing the way for final approval within the next two months.
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Congressional leader Arthur Lira has announced that a sports-betting implementation bill will be voted on by September 9 in the Chamber of Deputies, clearing the way for final approval within the next two months.

The final text of the Chamber of Deputies' sports-betting bill will not be made public until it is voted on by deputies, but according to industry sources it matches much of the language from the so-called provisional measure emergency legislation that was signed by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in late July.

Negotiations are also currently underway to include not just sports betting but also casinos and other games of chance in the legislation, although Lira has downplayed that prospect in recent comments to Brazilian media.

Lira is the all-powerful president of the Chamber of Deputies, who is said by some to hold the real political power in Brasilia ahead of President Lula. 

Lira has proved to be a significant roadblock to Lula’s agenda, refusing to lend his coalition’s majority support to the initiatives most important to the President without extracting favours in return. 

The sports-betting provisional measure is one such example.

An initial version of the provisional measure was not signed at the 11th hour back in May due to Lira’s reported opposition, with Lira instead insisting that sports betting should be implemented via a regular bill in order to grant the Chamber of Deputies greater influence over the legislation.

A provisional measure has since been published along with an accompanying bill, but the word from Brasilia is that the former will be allowed to expire in favour of that latter, which will use much of the provisional measure’s text as a starting point. 

Last week, Bahia deputy Adolfo Viana was designated by Lira to be the rapporteur of the sports-betting bill and will therefore be the lawmaker responsible for drafting a new version of it, and accepting or rejecting amendments proposed by his fellow deputies.

A close ally of Lira's, Viana is understood to be a supporter of the legalisation of sports betting, but his exact thoughts are unknown as he did not submit any amendments to the provisional measure.

When asked by VIXIO if perhaps Viana knew he would be the rapporteur and did not submit amendments in an effort not to show his hand, multiple sources demurred and suggested that was a possibility.   

Lira ultimately wants sports betting to be voted on by September 9 as that will mark 45 days since it was first submitted to the Chamber of Deputies by Lula's government.

As the bill is designated with “urgency” status, each house of Congress has just 45 days to debate it.  If it is not voted on within 45 days, by law it goes to the forefront of the legislative agenda and blocks the discussion and voting of any other measures until it is dealt with.

Once approved by the Chamber, the bill would need to be considered by the Senate also within a 45-day window. Any amendments made by senators, however, would be subject to review and possible rejection by the Chamber of Deputies before a final version is sent to the desk of President Lula.

Meanwhile, in another development in Brazil this week, Lira rejected a request from a special parliamentary commission investigating recent allegations of spot-fixing in Brazilian football to extend its remit.

Under parliamentary rules, investigative commissions, or CPIs, have 120 days to complete their work and submit a report with legislative recommendations for approval by Congress. The betting integrity CPI resolved in August to extend that timeframe by a further 180 days, subject to Lira's approval.

Lira's decision means the CPI must conclude its work by September 28.

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