Brazil’s Legalized Gambling Initiative Facing Lengthy Delay

Posted on: August 29, 2022, 10:07h. 

Last updated on: September 1, 2022, 03:33h.

While other Latin American countries find room in their legislative agendas to discuss gambling, Brazil seems to be stuck. The head of the Senate has confirmed that there won’t be any progress until December, at the earliest.

Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro
Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro appears before the country’s legislators. Brazil is facing a definitive delay in gambling legislation, as the head of the Senate now confirmed. (Image: Financial Times)

The latest delay doesn’t come as a surprise, as Senate lawmakers have been dragging their feet for months. However, confirming the chamber’s position is another example of its lackluster interest in legalized gambling.

Several high-ranking Senate members and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro have publicly expressed opposition to legalized gambling. They’ve been sitting on the legislation the Chamber of Deputies approved in February with no attempt to advance it.

New Government, New Laws

Brazil’s voters will head to the polls on October 2 to determine who will lead the country for the next four years. If no candidate gets over 50% of confirmed votes, a second vote will occur on Oct. 30.

The elections will decide several key government positions. The presidency, state governors and vice governors, state legislative assemblies, and others will be on the ballot. Following the elections, Brazil’s next president will take office at the beginning of 2023.

The president of the Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco, confirmed to local media that no discussion on the gambling bill will occur until after the elections. For some politicians looking to secure a spot in the government, taking a public position on gambling could help. Research from this past May showed that 58% of the general public supports the legalization of gambling.

That research pointed out several benefits legalized gambling could bring. Respondents indicated it would positively affect tax collection, with 61% supporting the idea. In addition, Brazilians also expect that legalized gambling at resorts will lead to increased employment.

Bolsonaro is up against a former president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. There are other candidates, but these are the two most likely to face each other in the final vote.

Neither candidate is a strong supporter of legalized gambling. Lula (as he is nicknamed), who was Brazil’s president from 2003 to 2010, isn’t as critical of the industry as his opponent. Still, his background, including allegations of corruption and money laundering, may be a stumbling block in the election.

The Rebirth of Brazilian Gaming

The legislation would allow casinos, bingo, online games, and other forms of gambling. In addition, it implements a licensing structure that would authorize either permanent or set-length licenses.

Resorts would be able to open casinos as part of an integrated leisure complex. According to the current legislative framework, these would have at least 100 high-end hotel rooms, meeting and event rooms, restaurants, bars, and shopping centers.

The physical space of the casino must be, at most, equal to 20% of the built area of the complex. The venues would be able to host electronic and roulette games, card games, and other authorized gambling activities.

In tourist centers or destinations, the installation of a casino will be allowed, regardless of the population density of the state in which they are located. However, a tourist casino cannot be less than 60 miles from any leisure complex’s casino.

The rules have the support of the National Federation of Mayors of Brazil. This could prove beneficial as political candidates maneuver for positions ahead of the elections.