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Brazil – Courts open way for legalised bingo in Porto Alegre

By - 31 January 2017

Bingo halls in Porto Alegre, the capital of the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, are reopening after local magistrates have ruled in their favour.

Magistrates for The Criminals Appeals Panel have ruled that gaming does not constitute a criminal offense because the 1941 law, which outlawed gambling as part of Brazil’s Criminal Contravention Act, violates principles laid out in the 1988 Constitution. The Brazilian constitution was rewritten in 1988 after civilian rule returned to Brazil after more than two decades of military government.
In addition local bingo hall owners are hoping that the provisional measures passed in 2004 which banned bingo halls have expired. Operators believe that combined the situation could amount to a legal limbo in which they may operate and a small number of bingo halls have reopened for business. However, while magistrates have acquitted defendants in a number of cases it does not necessarily mean that bingo halls have been given the green light as there are currently no rules in place which expressly allow them to operate. In addition The Public Prosecution Service have appealed the acquittals to the Federal Supreme Court.

The news comes at a time when both the Senate and the Lower House are considering overturning the ban on gambling. Gambling was banned in 1941 and in 1946 casinos were shut down by President Eurico Gaspar Dutra who claimed that they spread prostitution and encouraged the mafia and money laundering.
New gaming legislation is being considered in both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. In the Chamber of Deputies the text of the latest draft 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. A separate gaming law has also been drafted in the Senate and was scheduled for debate in December. However, 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).

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