Jair Bolsonaro’s Loss in Brazil Could Fuel Gambling Legislation Changes

Posted on: October 31, 2022, 07:21h. 

Last updated on: October 31, 2022, 03:44h.

On Sunday, Brazil’s voters decided it was time for a change. In a few short months, Jair Bolsonaro won’t be president of the country anymore, and that could mean gambling expansion in the country has a chance.

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva celebrates winning the Brazil Presidency following a runoff election with incumbent Jair Bolsonaro. The change in power could help expedite gambling expansion in the country. (Image: Deutsche Welle)

The progressive Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva prevailed over Bolsonaro in the final battle of the Brazilian general elections. With 99.98% of the ballots counted, the former president will return to preside over Brazil after receiving 50.90% of the votes.

This was one of the most polarizing elections in Brazil’s history, with the smallest difference between the two candidates in the second round. Lula won the first round by a small margin and only took the runoff election by about 2%.

A Possible New Era for Brazilian Gaming

Now that the election is over, the gambling industry will keep its eye on what happens in Brazilian politics. Bolsonaro repeatedly stated that he would try to stop gambling expansion, but the regime change could bring good news.

The arrival of da Silva, who will officially take over on January 1, doesn’t guarantee a change in how the country views the addition of casinos or other gambling options. However, it does open the door wider.

The debate over gambling expansion was on hold in the Senate, pending the outcome of the elections. It’s possible that Bolsonaro will continue to try to influence the outcome of a vote in the chamber. But he wields less power than before.

At stake are additional casinos in the country. There could be several new gaming facilities on the horizon, depending on the final outcome of the Senate’s intervention.

States that have more than 25 million residents could authorize up to three casinos. São Paulo is the only one that meets this criterion, according to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics.

Where the population is between 15 million and 25 million, states can have up to two. Both Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro qualify. In states that don’t reach the 15-million threshold, only one casino might appear.

The Senate could put the bill to a vote before December. Because the midterm elections gave a number of seats to the Liberal Party, Bolsonaro, also a Liberal Party member, could use this to support his anti-gambling position.

Lula Promises Change

The 76-year-old Lula, who already governed Brazil between 2003 and 2010, will presumably begin his third term as head of state this January. The Workers’ Party politician received 60,335,803 votes, while Bolsonaro received 58,200,414 votes or 49.10%.

The electoral campaign has been marked by tension. Left-wing deputy Paulo Teixeira denounced the existence of an “instrumentalization” of the Federal Police and the Federal Highway Police.

He said the goal was to eventually interfere in the electoral process. Teixeira also told the local media that these organizations, which he claims the Bolsonaro government controls, intended to create “artificial political facts for the benefit of the candidacy for reelection.”

Numerous videos circulated on social media in which Federal Highway Police officers took to the streets, mostly in the northeast region. This area has mostly shown support for Lula, and the presence of the police was viewed as a strong-arm tactic to convince voters not to back Lula.

Senator Humberto Costa, also a Workers’ Party member, tweeted that the party received a number of complaints about “completely illegal action” by the police. In some cases, this delayed the arrival of the voters. But it didn’t keep them away permanently.

Lula comes in at a time when Brazil’s economy needs a big boost. COVID-19 hurt the country, with another almost 10 million people dropping below the poverty line.

The incoming president has promised to turn things around, suggesting new taxes might be on the way. At the same time, he has stated that taxes on certain blue-collar segments will disappear.

Introducing expanded land-based and online gambling would also help. However, it’s not a slam dunk. The tight runoff election shows that Bolsonaro is still able to manipulate the system. He might continue to do so now.