Brazil Debate Over Casino Expansion Gets Underway Again
Posted on: August 22, 2023, 03:32h.
Last updated on: August 22, 2023, 12:50h.
Brazil is currently exploring the viability of a regulated sports betting market in the country, finally having made progress after years of delays. The work on sports betting stalled a debate over expanded land-based gambling. But the topic is now back on the table.
Brazil’s Minister of Tourism, Celso Sabino, will participate in a luncheon organized by the Entrepreneurship Parliamentary Front on Tuesday. The group, per its website, is a “non-profit, supra-partisan civil association of Parliamentarians of the National Congress, which seeks to achieve the economic and social development of Brazil.”
The meeting is an opportunity to discuss the regulation of casinos, bingo halls, and games of chance in the country. They’re topics that have had difficulty finding widespread support in the past.
Brazil Missing Guaranteed Revenue Stream
Bill 442/1991, the Regulatory Framework for Gambling, is still active in the Brazilian Senate and was approved last October by the Chamber of Deputies. Congressmen who defend the legislation say that the market could reach up to BRL20 billion (US$4 billion) per year and generate up to 650K direct and indirect jobs.
Sabino, when he was a deputy, was in favor of gambling for the benefit of the economy. He only became the minister of tourism earlier this month, but has continued to express his support of the industry.
If the Senate approves Bill 442, casinos could become part of existing resorts or other tourism complexes. In order to host a gambling venue, the property would have to meet certain minimum requirements, including the number of restaurants and hotel rooms, as well as offering other amenities.
Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco has signaled that the regulation of sports betting could pave the way for the arrival of casinos. However, there’s still a long way to go.
It took the Senate over a year to address sports betting, as former president Jair Bolsonaro reportedly used his influence to stall the discussions. Now, legislators might be more willing to support the casino initiative, but will likely want to wait to see how well the regulated sports betting market comes together before they make a move.
Brazil’s Love-Hate Relationship with Gambling
For more than eight decades, Brazil has had stringent prohibitions on almost every form of gambling. Ever since the enactment of the general gambling ban in 1941, only state lotteries and horse betting have been legally permissible forms of gambling. Under Brazilian law, poker is regarded as a game based on skill, exempting it from an illegal status.
In the 1990s, there existed a brief window where bingo and slot machines were permitted, until their subsequent prohibition during the mid-2000s. Repeatedly, all the way back to the first prohibition, gambling opponents argued that people should spend their time working, not enjoying recreational activities.
Despite their unlawful status, slot machines and the popular Brazilian game of jogo de bicho persistently thrive across the country. Jogo de bicho, translated literally as the “animal game,” is a type of lottery that follows the results of the official lottery draw. It has been permanently banned in 25 of Brazil’s 26 states (and the Federal District) since 1946, but openly thrives across the country.
As with other countries and jurisdictions, common sense is sometimes able to prevail in Brazil. Regulators and legislators realize that if gambling is already taking place, they might as well regulate it in order to capture a piece of the action.
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