Pandemic inspires new debates about legalizing casinos in Brazil

Pandemic inspires new debates about legalizing casinos in Brazil

The economic impact of the pandemic was disastrous all over the world. In Brazil, the situation continues to worsen. With the moving average of cases and deaths in full swing, the country sees no light at the end of the tunnel. Projects try to extend emergency aid to the socially vulnerable population, while the country’s budget deficit pushes the public debt upwards. With the economy at a standstill, the prospects for tax collection are low.

A long-term solution, which could help Brazil increase tax revenues, is the legalization of casinos. A troubled issue, which has faced resistance from sectors linked, mainly, to the evangelical parties. Meanwhile, the Brazilian public debt doesn’t stop rising, reaching R$5.198 trillion in February and forecasted to close in 2021 at R$5.9 trillion, as reported

What is the current situation regarding the legalization of casinos in Brazil?

There is a Bill in progress in the Federal Senate whose objective is to legalize the situation of casinos. It is the Bill (PL) 2648, 2019, authored by Senator Roberto Rocha (PSDB/MA). It is true that the Bill walks at a slow pace because of the pandemic, but it already has a designated rapporteur. It is Sao Paulo’s Ice Coronel (PSD/BA), a senator who is in favor of the cause, and who has been meeting with lobbyists who seek the legalization of casinos in Brazil.

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In the plans of the rapporteur, is the introduction of a substitute to the project of the parliamentarian from Maranhão. The rapporteur’s interest is to include in the bill the legalization of gambling and bingo, and not limit casinos to luxury enterprises and resorts, as provided for in the original bill.

While the proposal is not discussed until the end of the pandemic, for reasons of priority, there is a convincing work being done in the Federal Senate to facilitate the approval of the Bill. It is estimated that the Federal Government will raise R$50 billion a year and generate hundreds of thousands of direct jobs with the release of gambling, bingo, slot machines, and casinos in general.

Until a consensus is reached, or at least the majority required for the bill’s passage, the country will see a billion-dollar revenue go away, which would be especially useful to help the Northeastern states. For now, gambling remains prohibited. However, there are no limitations for those who gamble through online casino sites duly licensed abroad. Because of this, online casinos are still the best alternatives for Brazilians who like to gamble.

Other bills

Besides PL 2648/2019, the country has other proposals, such is the importance of legalizing an activity that already exists clandestinely. The same theme of casinos in resorts is addressed in PL 4495/2020, by congressman Irajá (PSD-TO), and in PLS 595/2015. More comprehensive, as the rapporteur ngelo Coronel wishes, PL 186/2014 of Ciro Nogueira (PP-PI) includes the legalization of electronic games, lotteries and machine bingo, online sports betting and the game of chance.

By the date of the projects, one can see that the casino legislation in Brazil is still far from winning the necessary agreement for its release. Among the main differences between the bills, besides their scope, are the dispute over the control of gambling, between states and the Union, and the duration of operating licenses.

Resistance and addiction

The most solid proposals are not simply an opening to physical casinos – and in some cases also online. As in the case of everything else that provokes a feeling of pleasure in the brain and can lead to addiction, monitoring and regulation must be provided. This happens with licit drugs such as drinking, for example, and does not justify the non-regulation of an activity that is already part of the routine of many Brazilians.

Therefore, with the proper creation of regulatory bodies that value responsible gambling – such as the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), for example – the country will be much more prepared to deal with possible cases of addiction. This argument, still used by those who are against the project, is not supported when confronted with the reality of countries where gambling is allowed.

What are the benefits of legalization?

All the relevant proposals regarding the legalization of casinos in Brazil focus on higher revenues and the supply of public coffers. Among the main justifications, for example, are the expansion of the scope of the Bolsa Família Program and its value from R$200 to R$300.

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The increase in the program’s coverage, from 14 million to 22 million families, and the increase in the monthly amount is equivalent to the estimated revenue from casino activity. Besides, if located in strategic regions, the generation of jobs is a direct benefit to the population.