Brazil Sports Bettor Wins $22K From Free Bet After Suing Sportsbook

A sports bettor in Brazil will receive the $22K from a bet he placed, even though a glitch reportedly canceled the bet when he placed it. Following a lengthy legal battle, a judge sided with the bettor, forcing the sportsbook to pay up.

Soccer players from Brazil's Ceara and Fluminense during a recent match
Soccer players from Brazil’s Ceara and Fluminense during a recent match. A bettor whose bet never made it to a sportsbook because of a technical glitch will receive his winnings following a judge’s order. (Image: Gambyl)

Sports betting is a prominent topic in Brazil. Not only for the increasingly frequent signing of contracts for sponsorships of soccer clubs and the legislative confusion, but for other reasons, as well.

A bettor is ringing in the new year in style, thanks to a local judge who determined that he was right, and a sports betting platform was wrong. Now, a free bet has turned into a BRL119,052 (US$22,682) windfall.

Brazilian Judge Red Cards Sportsbook

The 8th Chamber of Private Law of the Court of Justice of São Paulo has upheld a decision of the 3rd Civil Court of the Regional Forum of São Miguel Paulista. Through it, an unidentified sports betting operator will have to pay a premium in the value of a bet for a customer whose bet never registered on the platform because of a system failure.

The unidentified bettor placed a wager of BRL40 (US$7.62) on Dec. 9, 2020. He was participating in a competition linked to the 25th day of the Brazilian Soccer Championship.

At the end of the games, the final scores would guarantee the bettor first place in the league. However, unbeknownst to him at the time, the platform suffered a technical hiccup, and his bet never made it into the system.

After unsuccessful attempts through administrative channels to find resolution, he filed his lawsuit with the courts. The sportsbook tried everything it could to avoid paying the winnings.

The operator argued that there was no legal recourse to sue to recover gambling debts. It also argued that it couldn’t be liable for technical issues.

The lower court determined that both arguments had no basis. The case wasn’t about collecting a gambling debt; it was about settling a verifiable contract between two parties when one didn’t uphold their end of the arrangement.

In upholding the lower court’s decision following the sportsbook’s appeal, the higher court agreed. It ruled that the operator wasn’t settling a gambling debt. Instead, it was paying for damages the plaintiff had incurred.

The judges at both levels also rejected the operator’s contention that it was protected by its terms and conditions. These policies, as many sportsbooks have tried to claim, free it from responsibility in the event of a technical problem.

Sports Betting Remains in Limbo

Before he left office after losing the presidential elections, former president Jair Bolsonaro refused to sign legislation that would have moved sports betting forward. As a result, Brazil lost potentially millions of dollars in revenue from the World Cup, and the state of sports betting remains in limbo.

The country is no closer to figuring things out, either. Apart from the political and civil discord that’s still taking place following the elections, those in charge of helping bring clarity to the issue are still on the fence.

One is Sports Minister Ana Moser, who’s in a position to help guide the relationship between sports and sports betting. When asked by media outlet Folha de São Paulo in a recent interview about the topic, she said she didn’t want to “give a position” on the subject.

Her position, similar to that of other high-ranking officials, is frustrating operators. They have been patiently waiting for the government bureaucracy to give way to a legal market.

The lack of progress is unnerving them. They don’t know what’s going to happen next and are now looking for a resolution in the courts. With Bolsonaro supporters storming government buildings, trying to launch a legal attack won’t be easy.