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Brazil – Deputy attempts to decriminalise gambling in Brazil

By - 16 March 2020

Deputy João Carlos Bacelar Batista wants articles 50 to 58 of the Criminal Contraventions Law to be repealed. “The Criminal Offenses Law prohibits private games of chance. In other words, in practice, in Brazil games of chance are not prohibited, the State has a monopoly,” he said.

The deadline to present amendments to Provisional Measure 923/2020, approved by President Jair Bolsonaro, expired on Monday, March 9. The text modifies Law No. 5,768 which dates back to 1971, and regulates prize draws on national open television channels.

Among the 48 amendments presented by deputies and senators, is number 47 which was drafted by Deputy Bacelar, President of the Parliamentary Front for the Approval of the Regulatory Framework of Gambling. Deputy Bacelar has been a long time supporter of the liberalisation of the market. “The State hates competition, “argued Bacelar when presenting the amendment arguing that present laws protected the state monopoly when it comes to gambling.

President Jair Bolsonaro signed a provisional measure that authorizes the return of prize draws on television and the text was published in the Official Gazette this month.

“National open television networks, thus recognized by the National Telecommunications Agency – Anatel, that provide entertainment services to the public through applications, digital platforms or similar means can also be authorized, “says an excerpt from the document. The Minister of Economy, Paulo Guedes, also signed the measure.

Prize draws on television were banned in the 1990s, as it was considered harmful to consumers. The Provisional Measure has immediate validity but needs to be approved by the Chamber and the Senate, within 120 days. Houses can still change the original text however.

Under Brazilian law any game involving a bet is a crime according the Criminal Contravention Act of 1941. As this law still stands, any type of gaming activity that does not have its own regulations is considered to come under the Act.

If lawmakers accept the amendment proposed by Bacelar and approve the provisional measure, the operation of games of chance in Brazil can no longer be considered a criminal offence.

However the bill still has a long way to go if it is to be approved and it will now go to the plenary session of the Chamber of Deputies for consideration. In addition last year another bill was put forward by Deputy Eduardo Bismarck to amend the Criminal Offenses Act, to authorize gambling in leisure resorts and hotels authorized by the Federal Executive Branch. The text presented by Congressman directly changes the text of article 50 and would lift the gambling ban for “leisure resorts and casino hotels authorised by a regulatory body designated by the Federal Executive Power.” His bill PL 5319/2019 has since been joined to a much wide set of measures covering gambling expansion which is now being reviewed by The Board of Directors of the Chamber of Deputies which is responsible for directing the legislative work and administrative services of the House.

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