The Brazilian sports ecosystem is preparing for one of the biggest regulatory developments and commercial opportunities in its history – the launch of a nationwide betting market later this year.

With sports organisations, particularly football clubs, keen to capitalise on the commercial opportunities betting partnerships provide, and operators eager to seize the marketing potential, there is ample room for cross-sector collaboration.

However, such business will of course have to be conducted within the scope of the regulatory requirements and with particular regard to responsible gambling and integrity.

Martin Lycka, Entain’s SVP of Regulatory Affairs and Responsible Gaming, gave Insider Sport the operator’s perspective on betting’s developing relationship with sports in Brazil, ahead of his appearance at the SBC Summit Rio from 5-7 March.

“We are already considering what we can do on the CSR side of things, so we can replicate and to some extent mimic the programmes in Europe, the US and Canada,” he began. “We need to tailor them to the market situation, so please watch this space! 

“We always seek to be true to our core principles, and one of our core principles is achieving sustainability of the market, also by means of education and engaging the local community.”

As a leading multinational operator active across various markets, having built itself up in the long-established regulatory markets of Europe to subsequently make inroads in the US, Latin America and other emerging jurisdictions, Entain boasts plenty of experience when it comes to sports sponsorship.

In many of its traditional markets, sporting partnerships have included both social responsibility and safer gambling caveats. Of course, it is important to note that Brazil’s market is not yet live.

Whilst market launch has been approved, regulations are still being refined, as such operators’ full marketing strategies have also not been fully developed just yet. 

However, it is understood that responsible gambling promotion will be a requirement, and experienced operators will be keen to onboard experience from other markets into their sporting partnerships.

“I would expect that responsible gambling education and responsible gambling messages will have an important role to play,” Lycka continued.

As stated above, Entain’s engagement with the sports sector is extensive. In the UK – where the company is most well known for its Coral and Ladbrokes brands – Entain is a long-standing partner of the Trident Leagues grassroots football divisions.

Further afield, the company has been active in athlete education in the US betting industry, a market which a few years ago was arguably in a similar position to Brazil, experiencing rapid growth in the aftermath of the repeal of PASPA.

Replicating the success of its US partnerships, such as those involving the MLB and EPIC Global Solutions, to the Brazilian scenario, Lycka explained:

“In particular, we will be looking into potential projects to hit the ground running, or get ourselves on the front foot, when it comes to athletes and even wider sports betting-related education. I strongly believe that has served us really well in the US, as an industry at large.”

Brazil has an ‘unfortunate history’ with highly-publicised cases of match-fixing and player corruption, Lycka reflected, and so as participants in Brazil’s sports ecosystem operators must ensure standards in this area are upheld.

Many athletes will be entering a new environment when a regulated betting market is launched, as will consumers, and so education for both will be paramount, and operators must take an active role in this.

“We’ve been one of the flag bearers,” Lycka added, referring to Entain’s CSR partnerships in the US, but he added that “ultimately we are all part of the same ecosystem”.

Of course, upholding integrity is not just an operator’s responsibility, and in Lycka’s view Brazil’s betting regulations and the regulatory authorities involved have already done a great deal in this area.

Work on a monitoring system covering a ‘broad variety of topic areas including sports integrity’ is underway, and ultimately, the fact that the market is finally being recalled ‘will go a long way in addressing integrity concerns’.

Meanwhile, other sporting stakeholders have been involved too. For example, Entain has joined together with sportstech and data firm Genius Sports and some local governing bodies to form ABRADIE, a sports integrity association.

“The potential is shaping up to be huge,” Lycka concluded. “And on the back of it, the potential and the fact that a strong regulatory framework is being created, we will all need to work together.

“When I say we, I mean the CBF and the individual football clubs, who have been very involved in the regulatory process and are very cognizant of the indeed to address match-fixing issues encountered in the past.

“Long-story short, this might turn out to be a challenge, but at the same time there are already systems in place – the CBF and the clubs have a system in place. 

“The fact that the likes of Entain and others, who I like to think have very robust integrity systems in place, gives Brazil the opportunity and the potential to take sports integrity monitoring to another level.

“Regulation is a good thing, and one of the upsides of the regulation is exactly this. There will be even more scrutiny on all the games that will be offered, including some of the lower division ones that might not necessarily air on TV.”

Brazil is set to offer a high sports integrity standard to complement the huge potential of its market, in Lycka’s view, and the global industry can expect operators like Entain to play an active role in the development of this.

Looking ahead and moving on, Lycka was also quizzed by Insider Sport as to what can be expected – in his view as a speaker at the event – from the SBC Summit Rio, taking place soon.

“There has been a lot of hype around Brazil, and I can imagine that a lot of people will be minded to use the event as a platform to familiarise themselves more with Brazilian culture,” he emphasised.

“Every single country and region has its idiosyncrasies, and there is a practical opportunity here to learn how to succeed, how to market for the hearts and minds of the Brazilian people.

“Also, the other big talking points do need to revolve around the individual aspects of consumer protection, in particular sports integrity and responsible gambling.”

Martin Lycka, along with many other Brazilian sports and betting stakeholders, will be speaking at the SBC Summit Rio from March 5-7, 2024. Purchase your ticket here to gain access to all three days of the event, including the exhibition, the conference, and exclusive networking parties.

You can keep up-to-date with the latest news, speakers & exhibitor additions and conference content by subscribing to the bi-weekly SBC Summit Rio LinkedIn newsletter.

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