Brazil as a country has been described as being “Sports-Mad” by the rest of the world. The term arises from the countries devotion to Soccer or Football. The same passion and love for sports and tournaments are slowly transferring into Poker, and soon, it may become another “Sports Religion” just like football!
The only dent to this analogy is that gambling is still “Illegal” in “Brazil.” Even with the classification of Poker as a “Game of Skill” back in 2012 by the Brazilian Ministry of Sport, playing for money online and offline remains illegal. The exception was tournament-based Poker which the ministry described as “requiring intelligence, ability and intellectual and behavioral skills to succeed.” Plus, the society’s acceptance of the game as “a fun game that requires concentration, training and study” played a major role in the legalization decision, according to Brazilian Conferederação Texas Hold’em or the CBTH.
Still, the government executes strict measures against poker gambling and recently instituted a misdemeanor against individuals caught playing online-based Poker outdoors on the phone. The misdemeanor attracts a fine of $575 to $575,000, depending on the severity or a total of three months in incarceration. In light of the above legislation and the following misdemeanor, does Poker have a future in Brazil?
Why Brazil Remains’ A Perfect Poker Market
Brazil forms the largest and most diverse country in South America. The country’s population is among the largest of the entire world, with over 200 million people. Out of this number, around 100,000 people engaged in poker activities and gambling online back in 2006. The number increased to around 4 million as of 2018, showing the people’s determination and need for game legalization, according to Statista. All the earning realized from the game go to the black market, estimated to be over $8 billion in a single year! Illegal gambling brings in half of the amount, while land-based ventures bring in the remaining half.
The Decree-Law 3688/1941 describes all gambling activities such as slots or Cacaniqueisonline as illegal in Brazil. The decree further highlights that any individual caught engaging in such activities would face a penalty worth BRL2000 ($465) and BRL200000 ($465,000). Plus, the act becomes a misdemeanor. Poker falls under gambling sports and tournaments; therefore, it is an activity that has been illegal in the country since 1946.
In 2012, the Brazilian Ministry of Sport gave an endorsement, describing Poker as a Game of Skill. The title allowed gaming houses to offer poker games in the form of tournaments or as sports. The range of poker variants on offer also increased from Texas Hold’em to Omaha, Omaha 8, 7 Card Stud, Stud 8, Razz and mixed games according to CBTH. However, the leeway is only for land-based poker tournaments whose success is visible today!
Rise of Poker in Brazil
Poker in Brazil took shape back in 2009 when the first governing body CBTH became a reality. The organization took upon itself to educate the masses, amassing a lot of positive reputation and respect for the sport. As a result, Poker became a fun game. The best description transformed from a gambling game to a sport that required an individual’s concentration, regular training and ongoing study for improvement! The CBTH was also responsible for the recognition given to Poker in 2012 and its inclusion into the sports category by the Ministry of Sports.
The legalization was long in coming since; Alexandre Gomes had already scooped the WSOP gold bracelet back in 2008. He also took the Bellagio Cup tournament valued as the highest globally, with a cash value of $1.188 million. In the same event, Brazilians went ahead and bagged 2011, 2015, 2019 and 2020. Each of the winners took home more than a million dollars in winnings. The Latin American Tour has also taken interest and has had several tours in the country! The boost from local celebrities in the football industry, such as Neymar and Ronaldo, has further accentuated the need for legalization. It’s apparent that Brazil has become a poker tournament game host with major series making their home and stop in the country.
So, Is Brazil Ready?
Brazil is yet to set and execute a workable regulation plan for Poker and other gambling forms. However, with the Latin American Poker Tour and the WSOP Circuit Brazil holding tournament series in the country, it is clear that change is around the corner. However, the country’s talks on legislation and proper regulation for gambling are nowhere near complete. Therefore, more and more people are turning to online gambling as the government has taken no steps towards regulating online gambling!
So far, anyone can play Poker online and can technically be termed as “Free” for any interested parties. Plus, popular providers have few restrictions for Brazilian players making it easier to access online poker rooms. The reason behind the absence of restrictions is that Brazil can become the largest and most diverse “poker and gambling market” in the entire universe. Carving a slice of the pie and tucking it in before other sharks pounce on the market is indeed a wise decision!