Legal expert Witoldo Hendrich Junior warns Brazil is not friendly to “amateurs”

| By Daniel O'Boyle
Brazilian gaming law expert Witolo Hendrich Junior has warned that the regulatory environment for gaming in Brazil may not be friendly to “amateurs”, as the country prepares to legalise various forms of gambling.

Hendrich, who is a partner and the chief legal officer for Brazil at payment business Online IPS, spoke ahead of his business’ appearance at ICE London in April.

He said that while the business may become one of the world’s most important betting and gaming markets, it is likely to prove to be a major challenge to new entrants unfamiliar with the country.

“Taking Brazil as an example, with a population of 220 million, the country is on course to become one of the most important sports betting markets in the world but one which requires specialist and expert support,” he said. “Here in Brazil, we admit that Brazil is not friendly to ‘amateurs’. 

“Taxation has historically been known for being very challenging and complex, and the recent political involvement from the Supreme Court into legislative and executive matters definitely compromised the confidence in legal certainty.”

Both sports betting and various forms of gaming could soon be regulated in Brazil. SECAP, the Evaluation, Planning, Energy and Lottery Secretariat of the Ministry of the Economy, is set to publish a presidential decree regulating sports betting, allowing Law No 13,756/2018 to come into effect.

For gaming, meanwhile, the Chamber of Deputies voted 246-202 in favour of Bill 442/1991, which would bring various forms of gambling to Brazil for the first time since a wide-reaching ban came into effect in 1946. The bill would bring casino, online gaming, horse racing, slot machines, bingo and jogo de bicho operations to Brazil.

Hendrich added that Online IPS will use the opportunity of ICE London to help businesses looking into the Brazilian market learn what they need to do to be successful.

“We will be using our appearance at ICE London to explain our entry strategy for organisations wishing to operate in Brazil, as well as the special tax treatment enabling merchants to take funds out of the country in a legally compliant manner, using central bank regulations,” he said. “Our goal is simple and that’s to allow chief compliance officers to relax confidently and chief financial officers to rest easy.”

He went on to say that ICE London – which will take place from 12-14 April after being pushed back from its traditional February dates – was a vital part of the gaming calendar.

“The industry has certainly missed the show,” he said. “ICE is a critical component of the industry and with the sector going through so many changes and growth in the last couple of years, the industry is definitely ready to come together during ICE and immerse itself in all the new opportunities the space has to offer.

“In-person interactions create a sense of community, connection and empathy that digital communications technology cannot match. As a merchant service provider, we not only place great value in the customer service we provide but the close relationships we build with partners and merchants.

Hendrich said that the event allowed operators and suppliers to build trust, as well as understand more about the most important issues facing the sector.

“It’s the intangibles that count, such as a new connection formed over a drink or a degree of trust established from a friendly conversation and a handshake,” Hendrich continued. “These are what help us as a company to build the trust needed to develop the tailor-made solutions merchants require to succeed.

“Ultimately attending ICE helps us keep our finger on the pulse of what is going on in the sector and allows us to do a more thorough analysis through conversations, discussions and the overall show environment. It’s vitally important.”

To register for the event, click here.

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