Brazil Likely to Postpone Discussion of Legalized Gambling until Next Year

Brazil won’t likely see the legalization of casinos and additional forms of gambling this year. The country’s Senate has made it clear that the topic isn’t a priority on its agenda.

Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro at an event at the Planalto Palace. The government has confirmed that it won’t consider new gambling legislation until next year. (Image: Liga Democratica)

Carlos Portinho, a senator from Rio de Janeiro and, as of last week, leader of the Senate, doesn’t foresee any need to rush gambling legislation. He estimates that not until 2023 will the chamber discuss high-impact proposals. Among these will be the legalization of gambling.

However, the Liberal Party (PL) politician didn’t address whether the Senate might change its stance and support positive gambling reforms. He also did not mention whether the regulation of sports betting would take place next year.

Gambling Not a Priority

Portinho told local media that, with elections coming this year, there’s not much reason to consider a number of different legislative initiatives. In line with the evangelical caucus, Bolsonaro has already spoken out a few times against the legalization of gambling in Brazil, but left the door open for his successor to carry out the project.

The president of the Republic does not want to lose votes and support from the evangelical caucus, which is decreasing in its campaign against the gambling sector. For them, Bolsonaro has already warned that if Congress approves legalization, he will veto it.

Bolsonaro has admitted, however, that if lawmakers overturn his veto, there’s not much he can do. So, he will accept the decision, as well as his defeat.

A few days ago, members of the evangelical caucus prohibited Bolsonaro from presenting a provisional gambling measure. Its scope defined how sports betting operators in Brazil must be based in the country so the state could collect more taxes.

Public Support for Legalized Gambling High

A survey by the DataSenado Research Institute shows support for legalized gambling in Brazil. The research center carried out a survey on Bill No. 442 of 1991, which repeals the legal provisions referring to the practice of Jogo do Bicho, and Bill No. 2,648 of 2019, which provides for the operation of casinos in spas. Jogo do Bicho is a type of lottery, but is illegal in 25 of Brazil’s 26 states.

The survey, which the center conducted between March and May, showed that the majority of participants – 58% – agree with the legalization of gambling. Responding to a question about whether the exploration of gambling associated with resorts and leisure complexes would be positive for tourism growth, 58% of participants reported yes, while 40% said no.

In the opinion of the survey participants, the introduction of gambling would have a positive effect on tax collection in Brazil. The vast majority – 61% – believe it would positively impact Brazil’s tax revenue.

Esports Still Not a Sport in Brazil

Despite worldwide recognition elsewhere, and being home to several popular esports teams, Brazil’s Senate refuses to acknowledge esports as a sport. Last week, when they voted on the country’s new General Sports Law, they refused to include esports in the language.

The legislation consolidates all the rules referring to sports practices. It covers everything from the concept of what an athlete is to doping prevention policies, funding funds for the activity, crimes in sports and combating discrimination.

Senate rapporteur Leila Barros stated that a sport is “any form of predominantly physical activity that, in an informal or organized way, has the objective of recreational activities, health promotion, high sports performance or entertainment.” Unfortunately, despite meeting all of those requirements, esports didn’t make the cut.

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