Brazilian Senate Committee Rejects Gambling Bill in Long-Delayed Vote

Brazilian politicians from the Senate Constitution and Justice Committee rejected on Wednesday a bill that would have legalized the provision of a number of gambling services within the country’s borders.

Introduced in 2014, PL 186/2014 allowed for the regulation of Brazil’s gambling market. The bill contained provisions for the legalization of land-based casinos, bingo halls, video gaming, online gaming and sports betting, and the locally popular jogo do bicho.

The piece of legislation topped the Senate Constitution and Justice Committee’s agenda for its Wednesday meeting. Committee members listed the bill for discussion on several occasions late last year, but failed to consider it during their meetings.

Despite Wednesday’s negative vote, the piece still has a chance to move forward in Brazil’s National Congress. It can be voted in a plenary meeting, if a Senator submits a request for a review.

In a bid to convince their fellow lawmakers to cast a positive vote, the bill’s sponsors, Senators Ciro Nogueira and Benedito de Lira, said on Wednesday that the piece aimed to curb the growth of black market operations and to direct revenue from unregulated gambling services into the country’s coffers. They further pointed out that the legalization of a wider number of gambling services would not only produce new revenue, but would also create thousands of new jobs.

Opponents of the proposal voiced concerns over the effect the legalization of multiple gambling services would have on the poorest members of the country’s population as well as about increased problem gambling and crime rates.

Ministry of Tourism’s Push for Land-Based Casinos

The negative vote on PLS 186/2014 came shortly after the Brazilian Ministry of Tourism introduced a proposal for the legalization of land-based casino gambling only. If successful, the Ministry’s push could provide for the opening of casinos as part of larger MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions, and exhibitions) resorts.

The proposal had been supported by Las Vegas casino giant Las Vegas Sands even before it was officially introduced. According to the operator, the integrated resort model is the right one for Brazil, as it would bring different groups of international visitors to the country and would boost not only its gambling industry but other related industries, as well. Las Vegas Sands currently operates properties of this type in Las Vegas, Macau, and Singapore, which happen to be the world’s three largest casino destinations in terms of revenue generated from casino gambling.

Casino News Daily reported on Wednesday that Caesars Entertainment Corp. is also following closely the gambling developments in Brazil and is interested in entering the country’s gambling market when and if legalized. Unlike its rival Las Vegas Sands, Caesars expressed support for a sweeping reform in Brazil’s gambling landscape through the legalization of different forms of gambling.

Caesars representatives met Tuesday with Mansueto de Almeida from Brazil’s Ministry of Finance to discuss the state of the country’s tourism industry and potential economic benefits from the legalization of gambling.

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