Presidential Betting in Brazil Reaches New Heights, Controversy Lies Ahead

The recent presidential runoff election in Brazil was one of the most contentious votes in the country’s history, leading to a record number of bets. And though the election is over, the political battle between Inácio Lula da Silva and Jair Bolsonaro is just getting warmed up.

Brazil election protests
Jair Bolsonaro supporters protest the results of the recent presidential election runoff. The event proved to be a success with sports bettors, but not so much with the political camps. (Image: The New York Times)

Last Sunday’s duel to determine who will be the next political figurehead of Brazil generated over $96 million in bets, according to local media outlets. Prior to October 30, according to a recent market study, betting platforms didn’t expect the betting traffic to be so great.

The final tally of votes had the scales tipping slightly in favor of Lula, the favorite going into the showdown. This has led to some people not accepting the outcome, and could have an impact on the betting activity.

The Bets are In

Brazil is still working on implementing new gambling and betting regulations. This hasn’t been a hindrance, however, as Brazilians are increasingly expanding the use of sports betting platforms.

The recent presidential election was the first to feature legalized betting, thanks to a law that authorized fixed-fee betting or sports betting. Brazilians showed their support by hitting the sportsbooks as much as they were hitting the polls.

Local media estimates it was the largest betting event in the country to date, and with the highest average ticket. The presidential elections also went down in history for becoming the only political event to reach sports bettors. If lawmakers approve new legislation in the works, political betting and betting on “non-sporting events” won’t be authorized activities.

In addition to the elections, the final of the Copa Libertadores on Saturday between Flamengo and Atletico Paranaense drew a lot of attention from sports bettors. Flamengo won, grabbing its third victory. It previously won the top soccer competition in Brazil in 1981 and 2019.

Gloves Are Off

The narrow victory by Lula has met considerable backlash in certain parts of the country. Truck drivers and other protesters have been leading hundreds of blockades throughout the country since Sunday, which is causing problems with movement and the transport of goods.

Bolsonaro remained silent since his defeat on Sunday – he neither congratulated Lula nor intervened when the protests started. He only responded on Wednesday, asking his supporters to call off the protests.

His message came as those who weren’t happy with the election outcome were calling for military intervention. Fortunately, that isn’t going to happen.

Calls for a recount of votes do continue, however. If by some miracle, a recount determines that there was a mistake, this could impact sports bettors, as well.

Many bettors have already collected on their wagers. One bettor, according to media outlet Universo Online, has already cashed in about $407K in winnings, and is waiting on more. He collected on some of the 18 bets he made and, if the election results are overturned, could lose it all.

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