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Brazil Senator Seeks Gambling Legalization, Casino Support Escalating

Another lawmaker in Brazil wants the country to legalize commercial gambling.

Christ the Redeemer, seen here, could one day look down on a casino resort in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Image: Everett Leader)

When the National Congress resumes normal lawmaking procedures once COVID-19 is better contained, Senator Angelo Coronel (PSD-Bahia) says he will introduce legislation to bring the largest country in South America integrated resort casinos.

“We have one of the highest tax rates in the world. Controlling our borders and legalizing gambling in Brazil are two proposals I believe could help raise tax revenue for the nation, and at the same time, reduce the amount of taxes citizens would have to pay,” Coronel said.

The first-term senator believes “games of chance” are essentially “games of fortune” for the Brazilian government and its people.

If we introduce a new revenue source, then we will be able to reduce the current tax burden. How do we accomplish that? Through legalized gambling,” Coronel continued.

Gambling has been illegal in Brazil since 1946. The lone exception is its state-run lottery.

COVID Cure?

Brazil has been considering the legalization of casinos since 2013. COVID-19 might be the tipping point in garnering adequate support in the Brasilia capital.

Brazil’s economy is reeling from the coronavirus. The country has reported 5.2 million cases and 153,000 deaths.

Deputy Pompeo de Mattos (PDT-Rio Grande do Sul) also wants to bring Brazil casinos.

“It would generate taxes, income for the government, and it would help us recover the economy. It would create jobs,” Mattos said in May. “It’s a perfectly possible, viable, and necessary alternative to rebuild the economy after the coronavirus crisis.”

Deputy Alberto Neto (Republicans-Amazonas) agrees, and in March — ahead of the National Congress suspending its schedule due to the coronavirus — introduced a statute to end gambling prohibition in Brazil. Neto has offered his home state of Amazonas as a site for the country to experiment with casinos before expanding countywide.

“I believe that the State of Amazonas could be a pioneer in practice, and therefore, a true laboratory for assessing whether the country is in fact ready to receive casinos,” Neto opined in March.

Global Interest

The world’s richest casino magnate, Sheldon Adelson, has expressed interest in building an integrated resort casino in Brazil.

During a 2018 trip to the South American country, Adelson told reporters that he was there “to consider investing in one or more integrated resorts.” His Las Vegas Sands empire recently folded on its efforts to build in Japan, Adelson saying “the framework around the development of an IR has made our goals there unreachable.”

The framework in Brazil, however, became more attractive in May when President Jair Bolsonaro approved an initiative that allows casinos to be included in the country’s Investment Partnerships Program (IPP). If gambling is legalized, casino developers would qualify for concessions and tax breaks under the IPP arrangement.

Adelson isn’t the only casino billionaire who has expressed interest in Brazil. Pansy Ho, who holds a 29 percent stake in MGM China Holdings, which owns and operates MGM Macau and MGM Cotai, says numerous gaming operators would look at Brazil if welcomed.

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