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Hedging your bets: how to regulate Brazil’s multi-billion-dollar sports betting market

Sports Betting
Friday, 28 February 2020 By Udo Seckelmann

In Brazil, casinos and book makers have been banned since 1946, and yet the act of placing a sports bet is not exactly illegal.  Although our 1946 legislation[i] prohibited the establishment of land-based structures for gambling, the subsequent evolution of the internet has allowed online betting from international servers to operate in a non-regulated “grey area”.

After decades of tolerating this legal loophole, Brazil is finally ready to regulate its whole sports betting market. Federal Law nr. 13.756 of December 2018[ii] primarily regulates the Brazilian national lottery, but it also includes provisions to regulate sports betting (a category defined as "fix-quota betting related to sporting events”) and its related tax revenue allocation. Pursuant to Article 29 of the Law, the “fix-quota betting” category will be a public service, and the Federal Government will be able to issue licenses to commercial operators both online and in land-based structures.  

Brazil’s Federal Finance Department now has two years – extendable for another two – to develop suitable regulations for the industry, and the Brazilian House of Representative’s Sports Commission is already scheduling public debates to discuss its regulatory procedure and directions.  Concurrently, betting companies are paying close attention and are already positioning themselves to invest in the country.

In light of these developments, this article examines how Brazil’s sports industry might best develop a modern regulatory framework to prepare for the inevitable growth of the betting market.  It also asks whether the UK could be used as a model for sports gambling regulations.  Specifically, it looks at:

  • Why regulations are necessary;
  • The fundamental pillars of a strong regulatory framework (case study – UK); and
  • The key opportunities and challenges from the perspective of Brazilian football.

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Written by

Udo Seckelmann

Udo Seckelmann

Lawyer, Bichara & Motta 
Udo Seckelmann is an attorney who graduated from PUC-RJ (2017) and master (LL.M) in International Sports Law from the Instituto Superior de Derecho y Economía (ISDE) in Madrid, Spain (2019). He works in the areas of Sports Law, Civil Litigation, Arbitration and Dispute Resolution at Bichara e Motta Advogados since 2014, when he joined the firm. He has experience in litigation before the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF), FIFA, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and several sports dispute resolution bodies. He also provides legal advice and consultancy to various stakeholders in the sports market, such as athletes, coaches, agents, investors, clubs, federations and confederations.

In 2019, he did a temporary internship with the Sports Business Group of the law firm Lewis Silkin LLP and advised the sports agency World In Motion, both in London, in order to gain knowledge and experience in the English football market. In the same year, he became a writer and editor of Lex Sportiva, a sports law blog that offers commentary and analysis on current sports legal issues.
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