World Cup boosts sports betting in Brazil, but 'zebras' scare newcomers

The World Cup came to an end with Argentina’s victory over France in an electrifying game. The World Cup brought a series of traditional habits during this period, such as meetings with friends, decorations in the team’s colors and even placing sports bets. However, the ‘zebras’ of the Cup gave damage to new players.

According to the MKTEsportivo website, the national sports betting sector registered BRL 7 billion in 2020, despite the pandemic. Between 2018 (the year in which the law authorizing the operation of bookmakers in the country was sanctioned) and 2020, the sector jumped from BRL 2 billion to BRL 7 billion.

A survey by Zion Market Research pointed out that this sector should grow 10% per year, reaching approximately US$ 155.5 billion in 2024. In Brazil, the estimate was that it would move between R$ 7 and 10 billion annually.

People take up sports betting during world events

With the 2022 World Cup, however, this segment was boosted. After all, the World Cup is followed by many more people than a state or national competition, such as the Brazilian Championship or the national leagues in Europe.

“There’s no way to escape the World Cup, people are being exposed daily. So, during the tournament, bookmakers acquire many customers that they couldn’t access before”, says Arthur Silva, responsible for Betway for the Brazilian market.

According to Silva, sports betting is like an “opinion” and that “in big events, everyone has an opinion about that”. For this reason, thousands of people who, outside the Cup, do not watch football, adhere to bets during this period.

Publicist Priscylla Barros is an example. Usually, she is not connected with soccer, however, she loves to follow the matches during the World Cup. Therefore, Pryscilla bet R$ 150 in a series of games, even without being sure of part of the results.

“The more games you played, the more the winnings increased, so if I only bet on Brazil, which was what I wanted, I would win little. But if I selected several games, I would win R$ 7 thousand. However, I I didn’t know that if I missed just one, I would lose everything”, he explained.

The underdogs of that World Cup, however, drew the attention of experienced bettors and also newcomers who follow football. If for bettors (the zebra) it is a bad thing, for betting sites it is very welcome.

“Usually, the Cup helps to build the bookmaker’s brand, but it doesn’t make much money for them. This year was different, the margin for the bookmakers is good because there were a lot of unpredictable results”, said Silva, from Betway.

Despite the surprises, many people managed to win on less traditional bets, such as the number of fouls or corners in a game. Civil engineer Bruno Toledo did well in this type of gamble. He, who is not a regular gambler, saw his friends betting and decided to participate too, to socialize. However, the engineer does not intend to continue betting.

Betway’s Silva said this is common. “After the Cup is over, the number of bettors drops. Most who come for the Cup, leave later. But even so, the number of customers in the houses ends up greater than it was before. Many who like football and other sports, end up finding something on the ‘menu’ that they are interested in betting on”, he says.

Situation of regulation of the betting sector in Brazil

The law that allows sports betting in Brazil was sanctioned by the then president, Michel Temer, in 2018. In practice, it authorized the so-called “fixed odds bets”, a modality that includes bids in which the bettor knows how much he will win if he succeeds that result. The legislation, however, did not institute any government control over the activity in the country.

The deadline for the federal government to regulate this industry ended on December 12 of this year. The 2018 law provided for the creation of a body to define the rules for this market in Brazil, but this did not happen. However, as the companies that provide this service in the country are based abroad, they can continue to operate.

“There is a legal vacuum, because the term does not exactly have a consequence. That is, the law does not fall, but it does not oblige anyone to make changes either. Companies continue in this model based abroad,” explained Silva. “But if tomorrow a regulation comes out and the company does not obtain a license, it needs to stop serving Brazilians”, concluded the executive.