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Brazil – Gaming legislation put forward to Brazil’s Minister of Finance

By - 8 February 2016

Pro gaming legislation has been submitted to Brazil’s Minister of Finance, Nelson Barbosa as part of a number of suggestions aimed at improving Brazil’s economy.

The new gaming act will now have to go before the Senate for a vote after Senator Randolfe Rodrigues, an opponent of the project, managed to gather enough signatures to ensure that the bill may not go direct to the Chamber of Deputies for approval without full Senate approval first.

The news will come as a setback to pro gaming legislation which had already been approved in December by the Special Committee on National Development in the Senate which seeks to establish a regulatory framework for the legalisation of both land based and online gaming. The commission has a special mandate and carries more weight. After it was approved it was believed that it would go straight for analysis in the Chamber of Deputies.

However, Senator Randolfe Rodrigues managed to gather enough signatures needed which means that the bill must be presented and approved by a simple majority in the Senate before being sent to the Lower House.

New gaming legislation is being debated as part of “Brazil Agenda” a set of new rules put forward by the President of the Senate, Renan Calheiros – a business-friendly agenda which is designed to provide a much needed boost to economic growth. The text of the new version of the bill would allow for 35 casinos, with at least one per state while some states would be permitted to have as many as three, depending on the population and the economic outlook in each state.

The new bill was approved by eight votes in favour, two against with one abstention. Senator Cristovam Buarque opposed the bill, arguing that gaming encouraged illegal practices such as drugs and prostitution while Senator Gleisi Hoffmann announced that he would abstain from voting saying that he had “many doubts” about the project and felt that it should be discussed more deeply. He also added that “gaming encourages other activities that may cause a negative impact on society.”

Although it will mean a delay the news was welcomed by the head of the committee tasked with proposing new gaming legislation Senator Blairo Maggi, who said that a wide-ranging debate with the participation of the whole House would bring more credibility to the project.

A number of measures including social security reform were put forward to the minister by members of Brazil’s Social Democratic Party (PSD) who met with Mr Barbosa, to make suggestions for measures aimed at encouraging Brazil’s economic growth, “sustainability and social justice.” The PSD is part of the governing coalition.

Congressman Herculano Passos included pro gaming legalisation as part of the document as he said that it would encourage economic growth and tourism.

“As President of the Parliamentary Front in Defence of Tourism in Congress, I know the importance that this sector plays in the economic and social development of the country. With the economic crisis, the Federal Government itself again is considering the legalisation of games, and with casinos alone, Brazil could raise R$20bn in the first year which would reach US$100bn in the next ten. Casinos also drive the economy and generate jobs and income,” he said.

Before being presented to the Minister the issue led to a fierce debate amongst lawmakers and had met with resistance from a number of evangelical congressmen.

However Congressman Herculano Passos pointed out that: “Of all the Christian countries in the world, the only one that prohibits casinos is Brazil and this is unfortunate because gaming takes place illegally here anyway and we fail to raise millions in taxes on this activity. In addition, thousands of Brazilians leave the country to play, spending millions on hotels, restaurants, transportation etc and this money could have been spent here,” he said.

The proposals were met with approval by the minister and will be part of “Brazil Agenda” a set of new rules put forward by the President of the Senate, Renan Calheiros – a business-friendly agenda which is designed to provide a much needed boost to economic growth.

In December the Special Committee on National Development approved Senate Bill Brazil 186/2014 which seeks to establish a regulatory framework for the legalisation of both land based and online gaming. The report on the text was introduced by Senator Blairo Maggi and is now under review by the Ministry of Finance.

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