During an official ceremony

Brazil President Lula da Silva publicly criticizes online gambling

Reading time 1:20 min

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) criticized the gambling sector in an event held on Friday, February 23, in Rio de Janeiro. The chief executive made comparisons with Brazil's so-called jogo do bicho ("bug game"), considered illegal in the country.

"A hundred years ago, you couldn't play a drum in the Municipal Theater, nor a tambourine, nor capoeira, everything was forbidden. This country is curious: the bicho game is still banned today, but everyone plays bicho. What is more serious, worse than the game itself, are the 24 hours a day of gambling on television," said the president, in statements reproduced by the newspaper O Globo.

Despite not mentioning the word 'betting', the president's description corresponds to the sector's practices, mainly by the reference to the companies' advertisements on television. In his speech, Lula also mentioned that families spend 14% of their income on gambling.

The statement was made during an agenda in which the president was announcing investments worth BRL 250 million (about USD 50 million) in a Petrobras cultural promotion program. You can watch it below (from 1h15min):

"Casinos are banned here because it's gambling. Gambling is gambling. But now, in electronic gambling, you can play with children as young as five and as old as ninety. The usual is to play. As the companies still do not pay taxes, because the law has not been passed, they are earning a lot and paying little," Lula said. 

The president, however, was mistaken when he said that "the law has not been approved," since he enacted it in December 2023. The main responsibility for carrying out the process of regulating betting lies with the Ministry of Finance (while the issue of fighting match-fixing will be centered in the Ministry of Sports, according to information from the government itself).

In January, the National Secretariat for Prizes and Bets was created within the Treasury structure to focus exclusively on this matter. Twelve ordinances will be published shortly, detailing payment methods, transfers, and responsible gaming, among other aspects.

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