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Calls Grow for Haddad to Appoint Brazil Bets Secretariat Leader

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Brazil’s Minister of Finance, Fernando Haddad, has come under increasing pressure to appoint a President for the Secretariat of Bets and Prizes (SPA).

The SPA is the authority designated to oversee the regulated Brazillian sports betting market. It is also responsible for enforcing sports marketing standards, as well as integrity and anti-match-fixing regulations. As such, the appointment of the SPA’s leadership is essential to complete the project launch of Brazil’s federal sports betting marketplace.

At the beginning of the year, President Lula da Silva signed the bill legalizing online sports betting in Brazil. The Ministry of Finance was then given the responsibility of developing and releasing regulations, which included establishing a "dedicated market supervisor" to regulate the new sector.

In February, the ministry revealed that it had finalized arrangements to set up a 'Special Secretariat' tasked with monitoring and reporting on gambling activities. According to the body: “SPA will work within the Ministry of Finance to enhance its structure and improve government actions in regulating the fixed-odds betting market, online games, and fulfilling legal duties related to lotteries and commercial promotions.”

Delay in Bets Regime Final Launch

However, months after, the ministry has still not released the final schedule for launching the “Bets” regime. This has led to mounting dissatisfaction and calls for action in the congress. Haddad is reportedly contending with multiple political interests seeking for control over the market’s operations.

When the February announcement was made, it was anticipated that Haddad would nominate Undersecretary José Francisco Manssur as President of SPA. Manssur was considered the leading candidate, having advised the Ministry extensively during the legislative process for the Bets regime.

Related: Brazil Nears Regulated Sports Betting Following Approval of Tax Rate Bill

However, things took an unexpected turn when Manssur resigned his position in February after a public dispute with Centrão (Big Centre), an influential coalition in Congress backed by Arthur Lira (PP), the current President of the Chamber of Deputies. The fallout is reportedly linked to Centrão's criticism of the tax allocation measures within the Bets regime, which are favored by the Ministry of Finance.

The coalition is accused of interfering in the structuring of SPA to ensure greater influence by the Ministry of Sport, which is headed by Andre Fufuca, a member of Centrão and the Progressive Party (PP). According to local media reports, Rogério Carvalho, Senator from the state of Sergipe, has put forth his candidacy to be the first President of the Secretariat.

However, aiming for tight control over the tax allocation model of the Bets regime, Haddad prefers to appoint advisor Marcos Barbosa Pinto, who currently serves as the Secretary of Economic Reforms in the PT government.

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