Brazil’s Gambling Legalization Effort Gains More Public and Political Support

A very slight majority of Brazil’s population supports the legalization of brick-and-mortar casinos and bingo halls in the country, a recent report compiled by local research firm Paraná Pesquisas and published by news outlet JD1 Notícias showed.

About 45.7% of all surveyed Brazilian nationals said they wanted casinos and about 45.5% said they did not support the move. Men were more supportive of the idea with 57.7% of all interviewed men responding that they wanted casinos to be opened in the country and 56.8% speaking in favor of bingo halls. Women, on the other hand, were more reserved towards the legalization of these two types of gambling establishments, with 34.1% of them supporting casinos and 35.2% of them supporting bingo halls.

Another trend seen in the report was that a greater number of the respondents that had completed fewer education stages or were unemployed at the time the survey was compiled were opposed to the legalization and operation of casinos and bingo halls in the country.

The results from the survey were made public at a time when Brazil’s lawmakers are considering the introduction of a sweeping reform of the country’s gambling industry.

Brazil’s Gambling Industry and Its Potential

It was back in the 1940s when Brazil introduced its latest major legislative framework in regard to the regulation of its gambling industry. Under that framework, the provision of gambling services is prohibited in the country with very few exceptions.

However, Brazil is believed to be one of the jurisdictions that hold great potential that is yet to be untapped. The country has already attracted the interest of major international gambling companies, both ones with land-based and online operations. For instance, casino operators like Las Vegas giants Las Vegas Sands and Caesars Entertainment Corp. have revealed that they have been eyeing investment and expansion opportunities in Brazil.

If gambling is legalized in the South American country, that would mean that a huge market would be opened for operations. With population of 207.7 million people (World Bank: 2016), Brazil is the largest country on the continent and one of the largest in the world.

Given the fact that gambling services in the country are mainly provided illegally, it is practically impossible to estimate the local market’s size very accurately. However, estimates from the Brazilian Legal Gaming Institute (Instituto de Jogo Legal – IJL) suggest that the country’s gambling market could be worth R$20 billion (approximately $6.4 billion). In terms of gambling turnover generated annually, the market could be valued at around R$55 billion (approximately $17.5 billion).

Gambling Legalization Push

Betting on horse racing, state-operated lotteries, and poker are the only legal gambling services in Brazil. Bingo was legalized in the 1990s only to be banned again in 2007. There have been broad discussions over the legalization and regulation of more gambling options including land-based and online casinos, sports betting, slot parlors, bingo halls, and the locally popular lottery-style game Jogo do Bicho.

Two separate bills have been produced by the two chambers of Brazil’s National Congress, but they both still need to be voted by the full floors of the country’s Chamber of Deputies and Senate. However, clashing opinions on the matter have stalled progress on both legislative pieces for several years now.

Here it is also important to note that the idea for a massive gambling expansion in the country has been gaining more and more support among members of the Brazilian government. Earlier this month, Deputy César Halum, known to be among the lawmakers that have supported staunchly the legalization of additional gambling options, announced that he would begin gathering signatures for the creation of a Parliamentary Front for the Legalization of Gaming in Brazil.

The official needs a total of 171 signatures in order to be able to establish the front and begin lobbying work for the legalization of gambling. According to Deputy Halum, a gambling expansion in the country could help it improve its financial state and could come as an additional revenue source for filling a massive budget gap.

The politician believes that in order to implement tax hikes or create new taxes in one area or another, Brazil should create new sources of tax revenue. Deputy Halum has also told local media that Brazil’s expanded and regulated gambling industry could generate more than $5 billion in tax revenue per year.

While the above-mentioned figure might be a bit far-fetched, it is an indisputable fact that there is a significant demand for gambling services in Brazil and international companies preparing to flock to the country is a good proof to this. It is yet to be seen when and how the market will be regulated, but if eventually regulated and if this is done properly, the country could quickly establish itself as the world’s largest regulated jurisdiction.

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