Senators rush to regulate electronic bookmakers

Senators rush to regulate electronic bookmakers

The Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry (CPI) on Sports Betting was inaugurated last week, in the Chamber of Deputies, but senators are organizing themselves to anticipate its results and define the regulation of the sector. While the majority of CPI deputies are in favor of normalizing betting, with rules for users and tax collection, a significant part of the Senate manifests strong restrictions and even defends a ban. In addition, this group wants to advance the government’s promise to issue a provisional measure on the subject and discuss projects already presented in the Senate, arguing the urgency of combating crime, tax evasion and gambling addiction.

Senator Giordano (MDB-SP) proposed to the Economic Affairs Commission (CAE) of the Senate to schedule a public hearing with the owners of electronic betting companies to provide clarification on the activities, starting with information on the address of the headquarters. A survey by the senator’s team revealed that almost all operations in Brazil are apparently headquartered in tax havens.

“In order not to pay taxes in Brazil, companies only keep installation networks here to play games”, he said. He also warned of the fact that, due to the absence of rules, even minors are playing, financed by their parents’ money.

Former president of a football club (Fortaleza) and critic of proposals for the legalization of gambling in the country, Senator Eduardo Girão (Novo-CE) sees in the manipulation of game results “a much greater tragedy”, whose dimension is in the fact that it involves “the national passion” for sport. “We always have to believe in professional ethics, but the situation got completely out of control”, he underlined.

Girão defended the measure adopted in England to prohibit the advertising of bookmakers (bets) on club uniforms. The senator said he heard testimony from families desperate because of debts incurred with these bets, with gamblers on the verge of suicide. Other senators linked to the Evangelical Front, such as Magno Malta (PL-ES), are also concerned about the consequences of betting on social well-being and mental health.

For others, however, the central question is that the lack of inspection and taxes is stimulating violence on the field and in the stands. “The Senate needs to take a position now on this serious issue of match-fixing, which tends to get worse soon”, warned Omar Aziz (PSD-AM) in plenary. He even advocated that electronic betting be banned immediately “so as not to damage the credibility of our football”. The senator fears that serious professionals will be confused with dishonest ones, noting that the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) is not responsible for the crimes.

For Flávio Arns (PSB-PR), the matter is “more complex” than whether or not to charge taxes, and should also be discussed in the education (CE) and social affairs (CAS) commissions. “It surprises me that businessmen come to Congress saying that they want to pay taxes. It’s billions of reais and no tax. However, the issue is much worse, because even children are playing, getting addicted and losing money. We need rules against all this corruption involved”, he protested.

As a dissonant voice, Senator Jorge Kajuru (PSB-GO) invests in the bill authored by him and General Mourão (Republicanos-RS) that deals with regulating sports betting. PL 845/2023 was sent by the Board of Directors to the Constitution and Justice Commission (CCJ), where it awaits the designation of a rapporteur. According to the proposed text, advertising would be allowed and taxes would be charged.

Kajuru also wants the creation of a Senate commission to monitor investigations into match-fixing in football matches. The senator condemned “radical measures”, as he understood that “there are well-intentioned businessmen”, and said he had negotiated with Minister Fernando Haddad, of Finance, the search for dialogue around the future value of the license for bookmakers to operate.

CPI is made up of deputies linked to the world of sports

Announced in April, after the reading of the request of deputy Felipe Carreras (PSB-PE) by the mayor, Arthur Lira (PP-AL), the CPI das Apostas, with 34 holders, investigates the scandal of manipulation of football matches, revealed by the Public Ministry (MP) of Goiás and that continues to bring revelations.

The scandal, also under investigation by the Federal Police (PM), came to light with the revelation of the match-fixing scheme in betting applications involving games in the A and B series of the Brasileirão. Athletes and spotters combined actions such as fouls and penalty kicks and shared betting profits.

Lira defended the opening of the CPI as a way of responding to serious facts that call the attention of the majority of the population. He also sees in the collegiate a chance to advance in the regulation of electronic betting in Brazil.

“The Chamber has already voted on the regulation, which has been waiting for the Senate to deliberate for over a year. It is important that we regulate the sector. The influence of these online bets is clear, which today I sponsor 100% of Brazilian clubs”, he said.

The composition of the CPI is dominated by parliamentarians linked to sports, including directors and former athletes. Among them, stand out Bandeira de Mello (PSB-RJ), former president of Flamengo; Maurício de Souza (PL-MG), former volleyball player for Minas Tênis; the judoka Delegado da Cunha (PP-SP) and Afonso Hamm (PP-RS), former professional player of Grêmio Bagé and Brasil de Pelotas.

Contrary to the usual clash between the government and the opposition over the distribution of vacancies, there was no dispute over positions. Felipe Carreras, author of the request, is the commission’s rapporteur and the presidency was taken by Júlio Arcoverde (PP-PI). For the rapporteur, it is crucial that the regulation is carried out in a balanced way, without extremism.

In 2022, the future of the CPI, Felipe Carreras, also reported a bill that seeks to regulate gambling in Brazil. He believes that the CPI will not only clarify sports betting practices, but will also allow advances in bills related to the subject, such as the Legal Framework for Electronic Games and Fantasy Games, currently being discussed in the Senate, in addition to legislation aimed at combating fraud.

Measure by the Temer government opened the country’s doors to betting

Since December 2018, fixed odds sports betting, the legal name of this modality better known as bets, have been incorporated into the national lottery system as an exclusive public service of the Union. President Michel Temer (MDB) edited a provisional measure (MP) authorizing the activity, converted into Law 13,756/2018.

The norm provided for two years, extendable for another two, so that there could be its regulation. But the sector is still waiting for a ruling from the Executive. Bets are operated by national and foreign companies, surpassing the sporting aspect and representing one of the highest advertising revenues in the country.

A study by the Senate Legislative Consultancy on challenges to regulate the sports betting sector identified accelerated growth since 2018 and has been attracting an increasingly younger audience. “The lack of regulation prevents this market from working properly, with the opening of companies in the country, tax collection and consumer protection”, said the consultants.

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