Foto: Marcos Oliveira/Agência Senado

The debate in the Lula (PT) government on the regulation of online gaming and betting was marked by at least 78 meetings in nine ministries.

The legislation regulating betting was sanctioned on December 30 by the president. All this, after months of intense lobbying activity by companies, law firms and government authorities. To which they were involved in discussions both in ministries and in Congress.

Agenda Transparente, from Fiquem Sabendo, monitors lobbying activities in the federal government. The betting market, especially bets, is dominated by sports sponsorships.

The majority of meetings took place at the Ministry of Finance, with 67 agendas.

José Francisco Manssur, former Finance advisor – Photo: Valter Campanato/Agência Brasil

At least 53 of these meetings included lawyer José Francisco Manssur, a former Finance advisor, considered to lead the new Secretariat of Prizes and Bets, but dismissed in February.

Manssur even met with two offices where he worked in the past, Ambiel and Pinheiro Neto. However, he chose not to comment on the matter when contacted.

Betting regulation awaits new team at the Ministry of Sports

Meetings at the Ministry of Sports related to betting are still few. To date, there are only records of three meetings since the beginning of 2023, according to the ministry’s public agendas.

The government also committed to publishing a series of ordinances to regulate the sector, but the Betting Awards Secretariat, created at the end of January, remains without a head.

The Ministry of Sports mentioned in a note that the Executive Secretariat, responsible for dealing with games, betting and draws, is undergoing a change of command. Since lawyer and economist Paulo Vogel left his position last week.

The ministry stated that it will deal with related matters only after the new team takes office. The Lula government carried out 57 agendas in 2023 and 21 in the following year. The data from Ficam Sabendo shows meetings held until March 12th.

Members of the betting sector met with technicians from lower levels of the ministries, without mandatory disclosure. Three ministers also discussed betting: Haddad with company representatives, Tebet and Marinho with opposition to games of chance, and the Ministry of Health discussed the pathological gambling disorder with the Treasury.

Tensions, dialogues about betting companies and criticism of Lula

The agendas record the participation of more than 50 companies involved in the betting lobby, covering companies in the sector, technology platforms, fintechs and law firms.

The most frequent presence is BET365. Additionally, Google, YouTube, Meta (parent company of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram), TikTok and Kwai had separate meetings with the Ministry of Finance to discuss compliance with advertising rules for fixed odds bets.

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) – Photo: Marcelo Camargo – Agência Brasil

In February this year, Lula criticized online gambling games, comparing them to casinos and Jogo do Bicho, despite having sanctioned the law that regulates the sector.

In addition to the meetings in Finance and Sports, there were debates in several other ministries, such as Labor, Justice, Planning, Management, Health, in addition to the CGU and Civil House.

Even the Post Office had an agenda. The Ministry of Finance has highlighted meetings with ANJL and IBJR.

Ministry of Finance

In a statement, the Ministry led by Fernando Haddad stated that it is engaged in a broad dialogue on the regulation of fixed odds betting.

The Prizes and Betting Secretariat responds to and publicizes all meeting requests it receives.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Finance highlighted that it will soon publish a comprehensive regulatory agenda on betting. Therefore, it will include the main ordinances intended to regulate the matter.

“These ordinances will address topics such as the company authorization process, payment methods and the technical requirements of betting systems.

In addition to responsible gaming measures and other important points of current legislation. Seeking to establish a balanced, safe and effective regulatory system”, informed the Treasury.