Brazil’s Senate May Put the Brakes on Gambling Bill, Political Divide Widens

Posted on: April 26, 2022, 10:02h. 

Last updated on: April 26, 2022, 03:07h.

Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies had no difficulty approving an expanding gambling bill two months ago. The Senate, however, is dragging its feet, and may not put the topic on the agenda until next year.

Senator Rodrigo Pacheco
Senator Rodrigo Pacheco, the head of the Brazilian Senate. He is allegedly stalling an effort to legalize casinos and other forms of gambling in the country. (Image: The Brazilian Report)

Two months ago, Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies approved an expanded gambling bill before sending it to the Senate. It has become a paperweight, collecting dust like a discarded and unwanted birthday present.

The lack of movement may come from the President of the Upper House himself, Senator Rodrigo Pacheco. He reportedly has no sympathy for the issue and might attempt to stall discussion until sometime next year.

In the meantime, the Senate’s position against legalized gambling is getting reinforcements. A group of senators is working on creating a committee with a specific goal of being anti-gambling.

Brazil Senate Puts Up Gambling Roadblocks

In the Senate, representatives from different parties are coming together to stop the bill. In addition to Pacheco, according to journalists with media outlet Estadão, “The bill that legalizes gambling will be buried in the Senate.”

As a result, the project to legalize casinos and other forms of gambling in Brazil will not find quick – if any – approval in the Senate. Parliamentarians from different parties have adopted a low-key approach to the subject. However, Pacheco declared that “The proposal will follow the normal procedures of the Chamber, always guided by a broad discussion, as it was in Deputies.”

This means that the bill will not receive special treatment, such as a direct vote in plenary. The Senate president directly controls the agenda, and he establishes it after consulting the parties’ leaders.

When an issue does not find consensus, the custom in Brazil’s Congress is to make the subject wait. This could delay its approval for months and years.

Brazil’s Senate has a track record of deploying delay tactics. At the beginning of last year, an initiative sought to incorporate the private sale of COVID-19 vaccines. The Chamber of Deputies approved it and sent it to the Senate. There, it has made no movement since last August.

More Trouble Ahead

The Brazilian Senate opposes legalized gambling, an activity that once delivered millions of dollars to the country’s economy.  As inflation and the poverty line rise, senators aren’t willing to accept a solution on the table.

In a sign of the chamber’s distaste for gambling and a possible forecast of what’s to come, the Senate approved the creation of the “Parliamentary Front Against the Game.” The group’s objective, per its own charter, is to “promote debates and adopt initiatives that discourage gambling, and combat its harmful consequences for society.”

Lawmakers have had years to promote debates on the merits of gambling and determine how to combat any potentially harmful consequences. The topic has been on the table for the past several years, and there are plenty of real-world examples Brazil can use. However, despite legislators’ calls for new ways to drive the economy, the Senate appears still willing to stall.