Brazil Senate Relaunches Debate Over Expanding Casino Market

Posted on: April 4, 2023, 07:07h. 

Last updated on: April 4, 2023, 02:22h.

Brazil continues to work on expanding legal gambling in the country. There are different projects underway to achieve that goal, and Senators are now reviving a plan that could lead to more casinos appearing across the landscape.

Senators in Brazil participate in a Senate session
Senators in Brazil participate in a session. They will reconsider a bill that could allow casinos at integrated resorts. (Image: Agencia Brasil)

At the end of March, the Senate approved the return of PL 2.648/2019, a bill that would legalize the operation of casinos in tourist resorts. The legislation, which was previously introduced, failed to pass in earlier attempts.

Senator Angelo Coronel, who had been the rapporteur of the initiative previously, is trying to bring it back to life. This time, the bill will need more support to stay alive.

Hedging Bets on Expanded Gambling

Four years ago, Senator Roberto Rocha introduced the legislation that is now being dusted off and put back on the table. Through it, he wanted to bring casinos to integrated resorts and certain other qualifying locations in Brazil.

That initiative envisioned casino gambling working only in conjunction with tourist resorts. Even then, only those properties that offered high-end hotel accommodations, restaurants, bars, shopping centers, and MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibition) spaces would qualify.

In presenting the project, Rocha highlighted the need to boost tourism. In addition, he emphasized that casinos appear as an entertainment option that enjoys resounding success in a number of countries. This results in strong support to local economies through direct and indirect spending, as well as investments.

While Jair Bolsonaro was still president of Brazil, the project was shelved. Now, it’s coming back and the Senate’s Regional Development and Tourism Committee will review it after appointing a spokesperson.

Embracing the Future of a New Brazil

Casinos have been banned from operating in Brazil since 1946, and their return has been the topic of several discussions since then. In recent years, these discussions have gained more strength thanks to the popularity of some online gambling platforms in the country.

Last year, the Senate planned to consider a different bill that would allow expanded online gaming. That never happened, largely because of the close election between Bolsonaro and now-President Luiz Lula da Silva.

Now that Bolsonaro, who was strictly against expanded gambling, is out of the political limelight, things could change. However, the former president isn’t fading off into the sunset, recently stating that he still plans on challenging his successor every chance he gets.

This could mean trying to block several initiatives currently underway. Brazil is closer than it has ever been to embracing regulated sportsbooks and online casinos, both blocked under Bolsonaro. But even as the finish line may be within arm’s length, there’s still more work to do to reach it.