Sports Betting: Brazil

By Ferrao Pereira Borges, Mauricio | The International Sports Law Journal, July-October 2010 | Go to article overview

Sports Betting: Brazil


Ferrao Pereira Borges, Mauricio, The International Sports Law Journal


Introduction

According to a European Commission study, the global gambling Industry worldwide generates a huge sum of money, around US$ 384 billion, or 0.6% of global GDP (gross domestic product). Latin America represents 7% of all resources generated. As such, sports betting, if properly managed, can yield a lot of money. (1) It is a complex, fast developing and exciting subject. However, betting on sport is increasingly being used and exploited to manipulate the outcome of sports events, especially football matches. On account of this, the chapter on Brazilian Law of 'Sports Betting: Law and Policy', as part of a book that will certainly fill a yawning gap in the existing comparative literature on sports law, explains Brazilian legal provisions governing sports betting and gaming. We have also tried to set out our impressions on this subject below.

In the first part of this chapter we shall begin by looking briefly at the manipulation of sport through illegal betting. In the second part, we will provide an overview of the Brazilian law on betting and gaming before going into the legality of sports betting and gaming in Brazil, especially in its online form. The focus in the final part is on the recent legal amendments to the Fans' Bill of Rights Act and its influence on the so-called 'Edilson case'.

I. Manipulation of sport

1. Manipulation of sport through illegal betting

Manipulation of sport through illegal betting is the most recent controversy to be discussed in sports law, undermining and affecting, as it does, the sporting integrity of championships. Therefore fighting irregular betting and match-fixing is something that must be fought in the legislative sphere and should also be a basic demand of sports federations for them belong to the international sports community.

For most people though, betting on the outcome of sporting events, especially football matches, is a fun pastime. This is why gaming and betting have been treated alike in Brazilian Law. In Portuguese, the first activity is known as 'jogos de azar' and the second as 'apostas'.

These business activities have become a very sensitive and controversial topic in Brazil, since, throughout Brazil's recent history, they have been regarded as an area that goes hand-in-hand with illicit activities such as money laundering and organized crime. For a minority that deals with criminal activity in the field of sports betting, it is way of getting rich by fixing and throwing the results of matches and betting a lot of money on them.

Gaming, betting, manipulation and cheating should be treated separately, even though these four concepts are similar and can sometimes interact. From hereon we will discuss only the activities off the field, but recognizing that cheating occurs on the field and may be practiced by some players. In fact, it is not so easy to define. What kinds of behavior constitute cheating in sport and its relationship with fair play is a complex philosophical phenomenon. (2) In this regard, codes of ethics are able to challenge such behavior, which in high performance sports has invariably developed to circumvent the rules of play to the advantage of the athlete. (3)

2. Match-fixing in Brazilian football: the 'Edilson case'

The so-called 'Edilson case' is considered to be the worst corruptionrelated scandal in Brazilian sporting history. It was made public on September 23, 2005, when the former FIFA referee, Edilson Pereira de Carvalho, and his colleague, Paulo Jose Danelon, were found to have accepted bribes to fix matches in the highest division of Brazilian association football. (4) They were connected with the gambler Nagib Fayad, who used cash to bribe Edilson and his assistant with the aim of profiting from fixed match results through betting activities. Together they built a criminal organization that worked as follows: (i) Edilson was paid by the gambler and, as result, (ii) manipulated several football games in order to secure payoffs from high-stakes gamblers. …

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