Brazilian football, a game with its fair share of historical scandals, is facing a fresh storm. This time, the focus is on a modern menace: online betting.
According to the Financial Times, a group of players stands accused of taking bribes to influence the game’s outcome deliberately. These alleged manipulations include getting yellow cards or conceding penalties. The bribes reportedly came from a criminal gang that bet on these very incidents online.
While the betting sites used are not implicated directly, they’re viewed as victims, having been duped into paying out on fixed games.
This high-tech controversy sparks new conversations about the rising influence of sports gambling, particularly amid critical commercial shifts in Brazilian football.
Betting Boom and Regulatory Void
Since its legalisation in 2018, sports betting has skyrocketed in Brazil. Renowned online platforms like Bet365, Betano, and Sportingbet have targeted the football-obsessed nation, leading to projections of R$83bn ($17bn) in wagers for 2023.
Despite this growth, regulation remains scarce. This vacuum leaves foreign-based online bookmakers beyond the reach of Brazilian law or taxation.
Andre Gelfi, president of the Brazilian Institute of Responsible Gambling, argues, “Without regulation, you cannot level up to international best practice,” emphasizing the need for a formalized market.
The new administration in Brasília had been reworking an unpassed draft of rules. But the unfolding scandal might slow this down due to the drawn political attention and weak government support in Congress. This uncertainty poses a significant challenge for companies, with little recourse for grievances.
Experts predict a future with regulation, requiring companies to apply for licences and potential restrictions on advertising and payments processing.
But this move towards regulation comes with its risks. High taxes and restrictions on popular online casino games may push consumers towards unregulated portals, an undesirable outcome for the industry and regulation proponents.
Brazilian Football Bet Scandal: Implications for the iGaming Industry
The scandal in Brazilian football and its repercussions offer significant lessons for the broader iGaming industry:
- Robust Regulation is Key: The absence of effective regulation can fuel scandals, damaging the industry’s reputation and trustworthiness. Robust regulatory frameworks help maintain Brazilian iGaming industry integrity and protect consumers. This is a notable trend in the global iGaming industry, which will hopefully be followed by Brazil sooner than later.
- Balancing Regulation and Market Attractiveness: Draconian measures can backfire, potentially driving customers towards unregulated platforms. Therefore, the challenge lies in balancing adequate regulation without stifling market attractiveness.
- Cooperation between Operators and Authorities: As Eduardo Bandeira de Mello, a federal lawmaker, warns, “The implications will be extremely serious if we do not treat the matter with the seriousness it deserves.” It’s crucial for operators to cooperate with authorities in preventing fraud, ensuring fair play, and maintaining the industry’s credibility“.