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Brazil – Brazil’s gaming bill facing delay in Senate

By - 16 December 2016

The Senate has returned the new law which would regulate gambling in Brazil for further debate.

Senators rejected the new law PLS 186/2014 which proposes the legalisation of casinos, bingo halls, slot parlours and the popular “Jogo do Bicho” or “Animal Game” voting that it be returned for further analysis to the House Committee on Constitution, Justice and Citizenship (CCJ). As a result the proposal was withdrawn from the agenda.

It was believed that the bill would have been voted for on Wednesday however Senator Magno Malta filed an application asking the CCJ for a more in-depth debate on the matter. The request received 44 votes in favour and 19 against.

Gaming Legislation was approved by the Special Committee for National Development (CEDN) in early November and was sent to be examined in plenary session in the Senate. The CEDN is responsible for analysing the projects which come under “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. Projects under Brazil Agenda have been given priority over other bills in the Senate.

According to the Senate’s news portal, Senator Aloysio Nunes Ferreira said that it was “absolutely indispensable” to hear the CCJ’s opinions regarding any legal aspects of the text. According to the senator, the current text of the bill may come under question as it could be regarded as unconstitutional. Meanwhile Senator Magno Malta, said that the new gaming project would help “launder money from corruption and trafficking” and would turn Brazil into a “paradise of corruption.” For Senator Ciro Nogueira, however, the country needed to face the issue of gaming and stressed that the issue of legalisation has been on the table for over twenty years. As an example of how widespread gaming has become he said that there were more slot machines in Brazil than in the United States – where this type of gaming is legal.

The bill is an updated and modified version of legislation originally drafted by Senator Ciro Nogueira in 2014 but with a number of significant changes. The text defines the types of gaming that can be played in Brazil, the criteria for how licences are to be granted and the rules for the distribution of prizes as well as how gaming is to be taxed in the future. According to the act online gambling will be permitted over all platforms including mobile phones “or any other digital communication channel.” Casinos will be permitted to operate in new tourist complexes built specifically for that purpose and will be part of hotels which may have additional facilities such as, restaurants, convention centres and performing arts centres.

The latest draft, which was overseen by Chairman of the Special Committee Senator Fernando Bezerra Coelho, also deals with federal and state lotteries and would allow for horse racing sweepstakes. According to the Senator, Brazil is one of the few countries among the largest economies in the world that does not have legal mechanisms in place in order to regulate gaming. During Wednesday’s debate he defended the new bill as Brazil is in need of resources to promote its development and to generate jobs.

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