Regulated Sports Betting in Rio de Janeiro Could Come This Year

Estimated read time 3 min read

Brazil’s federal government hasn’t been able to make a lot of progress with sports betting legislation, so the states are picking up the slack. Rio de Janeiro is moving forward with its own plans and wants to have a market in place within the next six months.

A photo of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, from the air. The state is pushing for regulated sports betting as a federal effort remains stalled. (Image: Getty Images)

The president of the Lottery of Rio de Janeiro (Loterj), Hazenclever Cançado, made the announcement during the World Regulatory Briefing on Brazil during ICE London 2023. He indicated that the regulator is finalizing a request for information (RFI) on sports betting and online lotteries.

Cançado explained that the sports betting process has already been opened internally and the studies are in the final stages. He added that the online lottery process will take place after the sports betting RFI.

Closing In On Regulated Betting

The RFI could be ready before the end of this month. It will likely specify that the market will rely on open accreditation with multiple operators that could include self-regulation.

There will be “fixed” and “variable” concessions. Cançado stated that the Rio government is still defining the terms for the fixed concession, but that it expects to charge between BRL4 million and 8 million (US$775,200 and $1.55 million) for a five-year license. The license would allow both online and retail sports betting.

One of the requirements Rio wants to impose is strict geolocation. Operators will be responsible for ensuring that their platforms are available only to bettors within the state in order to avoid fines. Cançado pointed out that this is possible, as it’s already being done with lottery products in the country.

Another requirement will be the mandatory use of Loterj’s official payment methods. Rio will also enable controls to make it difficult for companies that currently operate offshore to continue in the state, restricting their interaction with the central bank, mobile phone services and more.

The RFI comes shortly after Rio launched a dedicated effort to introduce sports betting to the state. Last December, Cançado published an ordinance that created a government commission to study fixed and variable operating licenses. He stated that it’s time to modernize Rio’s gaming operations and catch up with other areas of Latin America.

Federal Legislation Still Open

Even though the federal government has had difficulty finding a way to greenlight nationwide sports betting, the head of Brazil’s tourism agency believes it’s still possible. In an interview with Radio BandNews, Marcelo Freixo, the president of the Brazilian Agency for the International Promotion of Tourism (Embratur, for its Portuguese acronym), confirmed that changes are coming.

The bill already passed the House, but has become stagnant in the Senate. For Freixo, the biggest obstacle is public safety and the threat of money laundering.

However, with Embratur receiving much of its budget from gaming, he feels that it can be an important solution, as long as it’s done properly. Freixo is optimistic about the bill’s chances, telling the radio station that its approval is “on the horizon.”

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