Brazil inches closer to regulation, unlicensed POGOs shut down in the Philippines, Indian officials call for a regulatory body, and South Africa’s opposition party introduces a legalization bill.
Developments in Brazil
The long-awaited sports betting regulations in Brazil could be just a few months away.
This month, the lottery undersecretary of the Ministry of the Economy announced that regulated gambling is good to go as soon as the president signs off after the general elections on 2 October 2022, making those elections the last major hurdle between Brazilians and a regulated market. President Jair Bolsonaro has previously delayed sports betting regulations and declared his opposition to a potential online gambling bill.
The chamber of deputies is also considering another bill that would require the central bank to actively block payments to unlicensed, offshore gambling operations. The bill is largely driven by the chamber’s evangelical bloc, which has recently shown opposition to the legalization of gambling.
Sports betting isn’t the only area of liberalization in LatAm’s biggest country. Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies has passed a bill that will end Caixa’s monopoly on lottery games, opening up the market for several government ministries and even potentially private operators to offer lottery products.
Turbulence in the Philippines
This month saw the possible beginnings of a major sea change in the Philippine gambling market.
Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators, or POGOs, have become a harbor for offshore platforms targeting the Chinese market. Recently, they’ve come under increasing scrutiny for alleged links to criminal behavior, such as allegations of human trafficking.
Philippine authorities have initiated a crackdown on unlicensed platforms, shutting down 175 operations and moving to deport roughly 40,000 foreign workers.
Offshore gaming platforms based in the Philippines have long been a thorn in China’s side. Chinese authorities are virulently opposed to what they call “cross-border gambling.”
Even licensed operators might face an obstacle in the near future. Senator Joel Villanueva introduced a bill this month that would make all forms of online gambling illegal. While POGOs have been in operation for years, online gambling has only been available to Philippine citizens since last year.
India is as complicated as ever
September was a good illustration of the complexities of India’s gambling market.
Various interest groups have been having a tug-of-war over the legal status of online gaming and gambling. Nearly every month, it seems another state in the country has legalized gambling, banned it, or changed its legal classification of skill games.
This month, the state of Chhattisgarh moved to ban online betting. Similarly, the state of Tamil Nadu issued an ordinance banning online betting while it waits for the ruling of its Supreme Court appeal on a regional court decision that struck down the state’s gambling ban.
But while individual states try to ban gambling, federal authorities are looking in the opposite direction.
A government panel has issued a report calling for the creation of a regulatory authority to classify and monitor online gambling platforms operating in the country.
The differentiation between gaming and gambling, or skill-based games and chance-based games, is at the forefront of the nationwide debate on gambling. Card games like rummy and poker are incredibly popular throughout the country, and the High Court has consistently ruled in favor of platforms that offer them.
With a population of over one billion and widespread love of sports betting (particularly cricket and football) and card games like rummy and poker, many offshore operators have found success by localizing their offer to the subcontinent.
South Africa may finally regulate
Online casino gaming is currently prohibited in South Africa, though live dealer games are available through a technicality labeling them “contingent events.” Online sports betting is allowed, but only as an online branch of existing land-based betting shops; licenses are issued and regulations set at the provincial level.
South Africa has one of the continent’s strongest economies and largest gambling markets, but the patchwork nature of South African regulations has, in the eyes of many, hampered the development of the market.
However, that could be about to change.
The country’s opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, has introduced a bill that would regulate licensing, advertising, consumer protection, and financial security. Doing so would quickly create one of the continent’s best opportunities for online casino operators.
A previous attempt to regulate online gambling failed in 2008.