The Senate is expected to vote next Wednesday (20) on the bill that establishes the legal framework for the electronic games industry (PL nº 2,796/2021), criticized by the main associations that represent the sector.
The rapporteur of the project in the House, senator Irajá (PSD-TO), tried to put the project to a vote in the plenary last Tuesday (12). However, the initiative was opposed by other parliamentarians, including senator Leila Barros (PDT-DF).
At the request of the parliamentarian, the president of the Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco (PSD-MG), scheduled a thematic session for next Wednesday so that the proposal could be discussed and voted on.
“To date, only one Senate committee has analyzed the project and no public hearing has been held in the Federal Senate to discuss the matter in a broad manner”, says the senator. “The most worrying thing, for me, is seeing a bill of this relevance being put to a vote without the main stakeholders being heard.”
Authored by deputy Kim Kataguiri (União Brasil-SP), the original project aimed to separate video games from gambling. During processing in the Chamber, however, it was replaced by a text reported by then deputy Darci de Matos (PSD-SC), which included fantasy sports games, or Fantasy Sports (such as Cartola and Rei do Pitaco), in the project. In October last year, the text was approved in the House on an urgent basis.
Since then, entities representing the Brazilian games industry, led by Abragames (Brazilian Association of Electronic Game Developers), say that they were not heard about the proposal, which they see as a way of hiding websites that promote sports betting as electronic games.
“Try to just put in the bill the phrase ‘games that carry bets and cash prizes are not considered games’. That’s it. But the fantasy games crowd doesn’t want to put it, and precisely because, in fact, these are sites of betting”, says Rodrigo Terra, president of Abragames and creative director of the Arvore studio, who is expected to participate in the session to discuss the topic in the Senate.
In August, the association sought, with the help of senators, to make amendments to the project. All suggestions, however, were overturned by the CAE (Economic Affairs Commission), which had approved the project in June.
“Electronic games employ many Brazilians and generate a large amount of money. It is essential that we listen to the concerns of the main entities in the sector, as well as the gaming community, to ensure that any proposed legislation does not harm its growth and development”, says Leila.
The main supporter of the project is ABFS (Brazilian Fantasy Sports Association), an organization founded last year to represent fantasy sports gaming websites. The entity is chaired by Rafael Marcondes, legal director of Rei do Pitaco and IBJR (Brazilian Institute of Responsible Gaming), formed by sports betting companies such as Bet365, Betway Group and Rei do Pitaco himself.
He states that he will be present at the hearing “precisely to clarify doubts and show why the Games Framework is beneficial to society as a whole.”
“Anyone who claims that ‘fantasy’ is gambling is either acting in bad faith or does not know how it works. It is a strategy game, in which you take on the role of a virtual technician”, says Marcondes. “What Brazilian has never dreamed of being a coach for the national football team? It’s a game, simple leisure.”
Regarding Terra’s challenge of limiting games to games that do not accept bets and cash prizes, Marcondes says that this is a model used throughout the sector.
“Including established games, such as ‘League of Legends’ and ‘Fifa’. There are, in the sector, numerous games that make use of ‘loot boxes’ and, as far as we know, there is no statement from Abragames about this”, he states, citing games with professional esports championships.