Brazil Draws Major Casino Operators

Although casino gambling is illegal in Brazil, the country has reportedly been eyed by some of the world’s biggest casino operators.

According to media reports, Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson has informed Rio de Janeiro Mayor Marcelo Crivella about his company’s interest to build an $8-billion integrated resort in the seaside city. Although there was no specific mention of a casino in the conversation between the businessman and Rio de Janeiro’s top official, one is very likely to be included in the expensive complex.

Mr. Adelson is known to be the CEO and Chairman of major casino developer and operator Las Vegas Sands. For several decades now, the company has been developing and managing integrated resorts on the Las Vegas Strip, Macau, and Singapore. It can be said that it was exactly Las Vegas Sands that introduced the integrated resorts model to the casino development scene. Generally speaking, complexes of this kind occupy a larger site and usually include gambling, entertainment, accommodation, and convention facilities, among many others.

It has also become known that Las Vegas Sands has not been the only major operator to have expressed interest in entering Brazil’s casino market, despite the fact that this type of gambling is illegal in the South American country. MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment Corp., and Portugal’s Estoril Sol have also reportedly talked to officials from Brasília, Brazil’s capital, and other cities around the country for the potential construction of casinos there.

Gambling has been a tender topic in Brazil for some time now. With very small amount of exceptions, the provision of this type of services is illegal in the country and has been illegal for the past seven decades. However, the last several years have been marked by prolonged legislative discussions over the future of Brazil’s gambling industry. Talks have been encouraged by multiple reports and studies about the potential of the South American country’s gambling market.

Both chambers of Brazil’s National Congress have been considering their own bills that if approved, would legalize different gambling forms, including casino gaming. A Senate proposal would legalize the construction of casinos around the country, with the number of casinos in one city or another depending on the number of residents. Thus, cities with population of 15 million people will be allowed to host a single casino; cities with population of between 15 million and 25 million will feature no more than two casinos; and cities with population of over 25 million will be allowed up to three casinos.

A House bill also calls for the legalization of certain forms of gambling, including online gaming options and sports betting, brick-and-mortar casinos, and the so-called Jogo do Bicho, known to be particularly popular in Brazil.

Both legislative pieces have multiple hurdles to overcome, but the fact that they have already gained certain momentum in the National Congress and that major international gambling companies have expressed clear interest in operating in Brazil may bode well for the legislative effort.

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