Government intends to regulate poker, snooker, eSports and billiards championshipsGovernment intends to regulate poker, snooker, eSports and billiards championshipsGovernment intends to regulate poker, snooker, eSports and billiards championshipsGovernment intends to regulate poker, snooker, eSports and billiards championships
Photo: Marcelo Camargo / Agencia Brasil

The Ministry of Economy intends to regulate championships in sports such as chess, pool, poker and eSports, responding to requests from entrepreneurs who require more legal certainty to invest in these segments and targeting public funds.

With poker alone, information collected by the Ministry indicates that tournaments can generate R$2.2 billion in public revenue every year. The values ​​would be obtained from a 20% income tax on the awards and also on the movement of the segment, with events and ticket sales, for example.

The Ministry of Economy is benchmarking the UK, which has private revenue of $432 million (BRL 3.1 billion) in online poker alone, according to the European Gaming and Betting Association.

Gustavo Guimarães, Secretary of Evaluation, Planning, Energy and Lottery at the Ministry of Economy, explained that the focus of the regulation is not collecting, but structuring the market in order to leverage the practice.

“I want this activity to enter public accounting, enter the GDP and come [bring] collection — but not because I’m creating a new tax. We are thinking about generating this revenue for other areas and, at the same time, stimulating an activity”, told Yahoo.

Also according to the secretary, the segment is relevant in the short, medium and long term both to generate jobs and to favor the economy by encouraging the cognitive capacity of the participants.

Igor Trafane, vice president of ABJH (Brazilian Association of Skill Games), is also one of those interested in this regulatory process. Trafane’s priority is to disassociate these games (poker, chess and checkers) from the famous ‘games of chance’.

Chess, pool, poker, eSports and other activities can be recognized as ‘mental skill games’

This distance between activities is essential for entrepreneurs because these games are banned in the country due to laws created decades ago. “What is our cause? Separating gambling and skill games by law and regulation,” Trafane said in a recent webinar.

To meet these requests, the federal government is already working on a decree to adjust the legislation and allow competition organizers to have as a source of revenue the promotion of these tournaments. One of the main modifications of the text is the determination of what a mental skill game is.

According to the proposal, still being debated, it will be established that the skill game is one that depends mostly on the competence, intelligence or knowledge of the participants and not luck, such as lotteries and bingos.

According to the Ministry of Economy, practices such as poker, snooker, bocce ball, bowling, billiards, backgammon, dominoes and eSports are classified as games of skill. For portfolio, most of these practices are in a nebulous situation due to the lack of legal guarantees to players and others involved.

Government intends to regulate poker, snooker, eSports and billiards championships

To structure the argument, the Ministry of Economy had a report from the Criminalistics Institute of the Secretariat of Public Security of the State of São Paulo, which indicates that poker has skill as a primordial factor.

The prospect is that these changes will move poker and other practices away from an eight-decade-old decree law (the Penal Misdemeanor Act of 1941) that provides for imprisonment for those who “establish or exploit gambling in a public or publicly accessible place , upon payment of entry or without it”.

“Our cause is not to allow laws to be created and generate confusion between games of chance and skill. And also to preserve investments, jobs and taxes in the country,” stated Trafane.

Flexibility of gambling in Brazil

However, the flexibility of rules referring to gambling also has supporters in the National Congress. The president of the Chamber, Arthur Lira (PP-AL), has already shown that he intends to put up for discussion proposals that can help in the legalization of other games, such as bingo.

In the Federal Government, Economy Minister Paulo Guedes has a liberal position for the games and his portfolio supports flexibilization in several segments. Last year, at a ministerial meeting, Guedes even defended the practice as a way to increase tax collection and attract more tourists to Brazil. However, the issue still faces resistance from the evangelical bench in the National Congress.

“The guy comes in, leaves money that he earned the day before yesterday, he leaves it there, drinks, leaves life happy,” Guedes said at a ministerial meeting in May 2020,” said the minister at a meeting that had its content disclosed by the Judiciary .