Brazilian fans want fantasy MMA, industry that made 13 million dollars in 2022 is on the rise

Numbers show that Brazilians love fantasya leagues, which could be good news for the MMA community.

By: Lucas Rezende | 1 month ago

How badly do you think Brazilian MMA fans are interested in a fantasy league? Are you willing to bet on it?

Brazilians love fantasy sports

The evidence is clear, if there is one thing Brazilian sports fans want, is to place money on their favorite teams and to take part on fantasy leagues. With the rise of websites such as Draft Kings and Fanduel all around the globe, it is no wonder that one of the biggest countries in the world has also followed suit and its counterparts have been generating a staggering amount of revenue.

According to a research done by the Brazilian Association of Fantasy Sports (ABFS), the fantasy sport industry has generated over 66 million reais (approximately 13 million dollars) just in 2022. However, the numbers indicate that this figure will look much bigger in the coming years, with potential to grow around 120% in the next four years. This sort of development would make Brazil the third largest country in the segment, just behind the United States and India.

The future looks bright for fantasy sports

In an interview with the marketing agency FSB Comunicacao, the president of the Brazilian Association of Fantasy Sports (ABFS), Rafael Marcondes sees a bright future for the industry in the country.

“We believe that the Legal Framework will boost the growth of the entertainment industry, because, in addition to legal transparency, the immediate effect of this change is security for consumers, investors and operators, further consolidating the gaming market in Brazil. The text clearly defines the functioning assumptions of fantasy games and electronic games and with clearer rules there will be greater power to attract investments, national and foreign”, he observed.

With the prospect of becoming a regulated sector with the approval (which is yet to be voted for) of Bill 2796 /2021 by the Brazilian National Congress, the scenario cited above could quickly become a reality in the coming years. Especially in a country where a 2021 research done by IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Statistics and Geography) has shown that Brazilians are spending more money on games than on rice.

The bill also has key support in the Senate. Senator Irajá from Tocantins says this bill brings Brazil in line with others on the global stage. “Brazil has the opportunity to follow major international markets that encourage games and fantasy games and promote entertainment related to traditional sports.” Senator Efraim Filho of Paraíbas emphasized the job growth that comes along with fantasy sports. “Behind this digital universe, there is a strong industry … that drives and accelerates our economy”

Although soccer is the national sport and MMA is no longer as popular as it once was about 12 years ago, this could still mean good news for fans of the sport interested in having fun and making some money on the side by laying money on fighters. Currently, the UFC’s own website already offers a free fantasy league, though it only gives out prizes for the winners and not money.

Could regulation be an answer to fight manipulation?

Fantasy sports also minimize fight manipulations. In the virtual game, winning or losing depends on a series of actions and events. Interfering intentionally in an action or event will hardly impact the online competition. However, by regulating fantasy sports, Brazil can have a drive that can push betting regulation in country.

With the UFC betting scandal involving former fighter and coach James Krause, which raised suspicion of fight fixing, the possibility of regulating the fantasy practice in Brazil could come to help avoid such situations and incentivize the local Government to regulate betting sooner. In an interview with Super Lutas (translated by Bloody Elbow), Brazilian MMA betting YouTuber Bernardo Oliveira shared his opinion on the matter.

For the YouTuber, there needs to be harsher punishment for those who try to manipulate odds or favor themselves through gambling websites. Although Oliveira believes the UFC has already started taking precautions to tackle the issue, he still believes it has not been enough.

“Although it’s a different sport (from football), there is a connection. The government is already trying to regulate betting and this could affect those who bet on MMA. The bookies have the sports and they could just leave Brazil out. That can affect me. In my opinion, there should be more punishment.”

“The UFC has taken action. They now forbid any sort of bet from fighters. Dustin Poirier, for example, he used to always bet on himself, but just on the moneyline.” Oliveira said “The UFC has taken action and I agreed with it. Not letting fighters or anyone close to them place bets. It’s difficult, but bookies, who are the ones with more at stake here, could, by using their algorithms identify suspicious bets. Absurda amounts of money on a certain bet, and from there warn the authorities.”

Even MMA legends enjoy the occasional gamble

Fighters themselves enjoy the occasional gamble, even if sometimes it does not go their way. Not long ago, UFC legend Wanderlei Silva himself had to ask for help online after losing a bet on his soccer team, remember?

“Greetings, coxa branca (‘Coxa Branca is what a Coritiba supporter is called) nation. Yesterday, in the heat of the moment, I made some bets. We were winning 1-0, so I made some bets against some atleticanos (fans of Coritiba’s rival team Athletico Paranaense), but since we lost the match, I ended up losing the bets. So I’m sending my Pix here, so that all of us who are coxas brancas, who are so united, can overcome this situation together. You can see my Pix there. Let’s make that deposit to Wand, so we can honor our pendencies. It’s a coxa solidarity Pix. This is the number.”

Proper regulation will avoid these situations. Approving Bill 2796/21 will be a first step to bringing more transparency and safety to sports and entertainment. Despite fantasy sports not being impacted by manipulations, legalization will put pressure on the local governments to move forward with betting regulation. Brazil’s law regulating betting expired last December, which means the government is not only endangering local sports, but is also legally delayed in its affairs.

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About the author
Lucas Rezende
Lucas Rezende

Lucas Rezende is a Brazilian journalist and writer from Belem, Para. He has been covering MMA since 2012 and contributing with Bloody Elbow since March 2015. When not writing, Lucas also teaches English. In his free time, he enjoys reading, slapping the bass guitar and traveling.

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