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Brazil Misses Chance for Regulated Sports Betting

Outgoing Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro’s is heading out the door without signing a bill that would legalize sports betting in the world’s sixth-largest country. The former strong man’s failure to act means that regulated sports betting will be kicked down the road to the next administration, which doesn’t even take office until January.

Brazil’s gaming market is currently in a state of disarray due to a legal loophole that allows Brazilian citizens to place bets with unlicensed operators. Making the deal even sweeter, for consumers anyways, is another part of the loophole that also also Brazilians to skip paying taxes on those illegal wagers.

To say that this situation has the Brazilian government leaving some money on the table is a bit of an understatement. It’s estimated that regulated sports betting could bring in as much $3.4 billion a year within just a couple of years.

The legislation that Bolsinaro failed to sign had actually been passed by legislators back in 2018 but has been in limbo ever since. Some observers suggest that Bolsinaro has held back on moving regulated gambling forward in an effort to appease his legion of fundamentalist Christian followers.

Had it passed, the bill would have given the Brazilian Ministry of Economy oversight of the regulated sports betting market and created a licensing system aimed at quashing the black market.

Support for regulated sports betting is high in Brazil, both among the population and with lawmakers as André Gelfi, Managing Partner Brazil for Swedish-based Betsson expressed in comments reported on by saying, “Nobody is against the legislation. Part of the government wants it, the operators want it, and soccer also wants this security. Today we are big advertisers, and everyone is bringing this issue to light because they want legal certainty for the industry.”

Though Bolsinaro failed to act, it’s likely that his successor, Lula da Silva will move forward on the bill once he takes office.