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Brazil: Could today’s vote be delayed?

| By iGB Editorial Team
Today (6 December) Brazil's senate plenary is set to vote on whether to approve Bill 3,626/23, which would legalise sports betting and igaming. But could this crucial vote be delayed?
Brazil sports betting

When Brazil’s Economic Affairs Commission (CAE) approved Bill 3,626 two weeks ago, the industry thought the Senate plenary vote couldn’t be too far away. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.

The senate plenary’s vote was initially scheduled for 29 November. However, the vote was delayed until December after more than 100 amendments were added to the bill.

This takes us to the present day. The senate plenary’s vote is scheduled to take place at 2pm local time (5pm GMT).

iGB understands that this vote will be delayed by six days, to take place on 12 December. Senators have allegedly been told that the minimum number of senators needed to vote today will not be met.

In this case, the vote could not go ahead because approval of the bill may be compromised.

What effect would this have?

If this vote is also delayed, the ramifications could reach much further.

The National Congress of Brazil – which contains the federal senate and chamber of deputies – goes on recess on 22 December. The recess will end on 2 February 2024.

If the vote is delayed by even one week, this would leave one week and two days for Brazil’s chamber of deputies to approve the amendments presented by Senator Angelo Coronel and officially sign off on the bill.

And for the resources necessary for the bill to be included in the 2024 budget, it would have to be approved in 2023.

What does the industry think?

Despite rumours of a delay, Luiz Felipe Maia, founding partner of Brazilian law firm Maia Yoshiyasu Advogados, says sports betting regulation is not far away.

“I sincerely believe we are moving closer to regulation,” says Maia. “In fact, I believe we are very close to the approval of the bill, with one critical element that was absent in the previous attempts: the weight of the government in favour of its approval.”

Maia says that players will benefit the most from the regulation, even compared to the assumed benefits for the government and sports. As for the delays, he believes it’s just part of the process.

“COP28 resulted in several absences in the senate,” he continues. “The government and those in favour of the bill are not willing to take risks in the vote and those against it are trying to block it, aiming to exclude online games.

“It is definitely frustrating, but it is part of the democratic process.”

How did it get to this point?

To take stock of how we get here in the first place, let’s work backwards.

As mentioned, the CAE approved Bill 3,626 last month. This approval was particularly notable as it amended one of the most controversial aspects of the bill – the tax rate. This was initially set at 18%, much to the ire of the industry which had an overwhelmingly negative reaction.

The version of the bill approved by the CAE officially set the tax rate at 12%. An attempt to remove igaming from the bill also fell flat. Online gaming was added to the bill in September, and was approved by the chamber of deputies the same month.

Bill 3,636 went through a number of transformations to get to its current form. In July this year, Brazil’s president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva signed Provisional Measure (PM) No 1,182 into law. This implemented sports betting measures outlined in Law No 13,756 from 2018, with amendments to the tax rate and marketing restrictions.

In October, Brazil’s ministry of finance published the general conditions for receiving a sports betting licence in the country. This specified that hopeful applicants must apply by late November in order to be in with a chance.

Undoubtedly, the path to legal sports betting in Brazil has been long and winding. It’s fair to assume that the industry may be fatigued by this point. But while it’s been a long road – specifically for those based in Brazil – hopes are high that the senate will vote in favour of the bill today.

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