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Brazil – Casino in the desert proposed in Brazil

By - 22 January 2018

A possible candidate for the Government of the state of Tocantins, Ronaldo Dimas and Mayor of the city of Araguaína has proposed the building of a casino in Jalapão.

The ‘Las Vegas do Cerrado’ is expected to increase state revenue by around R$400m (US125m) per year. The National Congress would need to approve the project and partnership would be required to be executed through a consortium of four different states. The project dates back to when Ronaldo Dimas was Secretary for Cities, during the administration of former governor Siqueira Campos.

“We have developed a project there in Jalapão. We have come to demarcate the area to make what we call the Free Trade and Services Area. And we began the negotiations with neighbouring states, to all be partners: Bahia, Maranhão, Piauí and Tocantins. What will become the Free Trade Zone? Nothing more than (a zone) to free casino gaming, “explained Dimas, during a visit to the city of Aragominas.

Ronaldo Dimas argued that the new casino would be a way to generate additional tax income and likened it to the creation of Las Vegas in the Nevada desert saying that the difference between that and the currently proposed site is that water is already present in the area. “We will create our Las Vegas there in Jalapão, he said.

The mayor also emphasised that Brazilian law prohibits gambling and, therefore, the idea of allowing for the casinos with the consortium among the four states would facilitate approval in the National Congress.

Jalapão is a semi-arid region in the state of Tocantins and covers an area of 34,000 square kilometres. The region is a destination for adventure tourism and ecotourism and is a micro region meaning it is a legally defined area in Brazil consisting of a group of municipalities. The Cerrado is a vast tropical savannah and ecoregion, particularly in the states of Goiás, Mato Grosso do Sul, Mato Grosso, Tocantins and Minas Gerais.

In the Senate pro gaming, law (PLS 186/2016) is under debate in the House Committee on Constitution, Justice and Citizenship (CCJ). Meanwhile, another bill (PL 442/91) was approved by a special committee and is ready to be voted on in the Chamber of Deputies. Both bills seek to allow gaming in order to create jobs, boost tourism and increase tax revenue for the state.

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