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Brazil – Brazil President Bolsonaro set to veto gambling legislation

By - 28 September 2021

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has said he intends to veto the legalisation of gambling in Brazil.

Despite recent moves in the Chamber of Deputies to update gambling Bill PL 442/91 so that it is enacted by the end of the year Bolsonaro said that that he would block it. Bolsonaro told press that supporters of the bill in the lower house had already approached him, but he had told them that the measure would not have his support.

“I think there will be more to lose than to win at this time. If they approve it, I have my veto, which is normal, and then Congress can override it. Yes, what is being discussed so far will have my veto, period,” Bolsonaro said. “For now, that’s my opinion on gambling,” he said in an interview with Veja magazine.

Rather than regulate betting, Bolsonaro bizarrely said that he intended to boost the tourism sector by facilitating the growth of jet-skiing although it would only boost tourism by a very small amount. According to the Bolsonaro under new rules it would be possible to obtain a license that would allow the use of a jet ski using the common driver’s license, and a disclaimer.

Bolsonaro has to be careful not to upset the evangelical caucus which makes up so much of his support. His disapproval rating passed 50 per cent for the first time in July, according to a poll published by the Datafolha. Evangelism has been on the rise for years (a third of Brazilians now identify as evangelicals) and it was Bolsonaro’s ability to tap into this support base which helped him get elected. Evangelical leaders have repeatedly come out against any liberalisation of the market and even warned that Bolsonaro’s support base would crumble if large scale casinos are given the go ahead under his administration.

Earlier this month the president of the Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco, said that, depending on the approval of party leaders, the senate may look at proposals that would liberalise gambling rules and allow for an expansion of the market. Gambling reform is also gaining ground in the Chamber of Deputies. However although Bolsonaro’s veto would be a setback it does not mean an end to the bill. If he vetoes the bill then it is returned to the Brazilian congress, and can be overridden by a vote.

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