Brazil enacts new law regulating sports betting and online gaming
February 2, 2024
Brazilian gaming and gambling landscape
Online gambling is already big business in Brazil, despite the absence of a fully regulated environment or licensing structure until recently. Surprisingly, while the industry awaited final regulatory approval on an online regulatory framework, Brazil still managed to generate over 20% of all global online gambling traffic.
Brazil has historically had strict regulations regarding gambling in general. Until recently, most forms of gambling were illegal, with limited exceptions such as state-run lotteries and poker, which has always been regarded as a game of skill rather than chance. Brazil’s lack of online gaming and gambling regulations meant that Brazilian gamblers were either using foreign gambling platforms or Brazilian-owned platforms headquartered abroad. It is for this reason that the Brazilian authorities have introduced new legislation to help the Brazilian gambling market capture what is viewed as lost revenue (an estimated US$1.5 billion in 2023) and bring it back into the Brazilian economy.
Sports betting and online games legislation approved
Enacted five years ago, Law No. 13,756/2018 legalized the ‘fixed-odds sports betting’ market in Brazil. The legislation was subject to subsequent regulation by the Ministry of Finance, which only took place last month. Therefore, on December 30, 2023, the Brazilian President assented to Law No. 14,790, amending Law No. 13,756/2018 to regulate ‘fixed-odds betting’ in Brazil.
The new law allows companies to run fixed-odds betting operations in relation to sports events and online games, upon authorization from the Ministry of Finance. Foreign operators will now need to set up a Brazilian subsidiary and request said authorization to operate in accordance with the new law in the country. For interested companies to begin the authorization process, the Ministry of Finance must still publish regulations to cover provisions in the new law, including minimum eligibility requirements and authorization procedures. In establishing conditions and deadlines, the Ministry will give companies already operating no less than six months to comply with the new rules.
The law defines online games as ‘an electronic channel that enables virtual betting on a game whose result is determined by the outcome of a future event based on the random generation of numbers, symbols, figures or objects defined in the game’s rules’. Bets can be virtual (i.e., accessed via electronic channels) or physical (i.e., printed betting slips). The Ministry of Finance’s authorization will specify whether each operator can conduct both virtual and physical betting operations, or only one of these. The law also defines fantasy sports as those in which contests occur in a virtual environment based on the performance of real people. Exploiting fantasy sports does not require prior authorization from the government.
Companies authorized to exploit fixed-odds betting (operators) must pay a maximum of BRL 30 million (US$ 6 million) in fees for the privilege of making use of up to three commercial brands over five years. The first requirement is for an operator to be based in Brazil. This will ensure the Brazilian government is able to collect the taxable revenue, as operators will be liable to pay a 12% revenue tax and will be subject to corporate taxation as well.
Operators are also mandated to meet a range of integrity, responsibility and honesty requirements and are therefore required to be a member of a sports integrity body. Other requirements operators will be forced to comply with include having a minimum value of share capital, having a Brazilian party as a shareholder holding at least 20% of the legal entity’s share capital, and being able to pass several technical requirements.
Bettors will be taxed at a rate of 15% on the net amount that they win, which is a major reduction on the 30% tax that Brazilian Minister of Finance Fernando Haddad originally said he wanted.
The new rules also prohibit companies without a license from advertising. The content of advertisements must follow new guidelines, and any company found to be in breach of guidelines will have it removed from the internet.
It is worth mentioning that the new legislation has new payment rules that have been designed to try and dismantle Brazil’s huge illegal gambling market. Only operators authorized by the Central Bank will be able to offer payment services, and players will only be able to send money to a bank account that is headquartered in Brazil.
The bright future of the Brazilian gambling market
Currently, the Brazilian gambling market is experiencing continuous growth. While the exact size of the market may vary based on different estimates, it is likely to fall in the BRL 10-50 billion (US$2-10 billion) range. Brazilian state lotteries alone generated a reported revenue of BRL 18.1 billion (almost US$4 billion) in 2021, demonstrating steady growth even during the challenging years marked by the pandemic.
The potential and continued growth of real money gaming in Brazil is significant. With a young and digitally engaged population, the online gaming market has experienced explosive growth since the legalization of sports betting. Mobile platforms are very popular among local gamblers, with sports betting leading the way, followed by online casinos and lotteries.
As the gaming landscape in Brazil continues to evolve, it is crucial to stay up to date with the latest developments and adopt responsible gaming practices to ensure a thriving and sustainable industry.
Lazarus Legal has been actively involved in the gaming industry for over twenty (20) years and has adapted to the changing legal landscape, particularly in online gaming (iGaming). Our team can help you strategize and penetrate the market. We are monitoring the updates of the sector in Brazil and remain available to assist you with your endeavours.