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Brazil – Gaming laws still under consideration in Brazil’s Senate

By - 31 August 2018

Laws that could give gambling the green light and provide for the reopening of casinos in Brazil are ready to be analysed in the Senate Plenary, but continue to generate divergent opinions amongst legislators.

Bill PLS 186/2014 was introduced by Senator Ciro Noguiera in 2014 and was later amended by Senator Benedito de Lira to include other forms of gambling.

The bill would allow for video bingo, casinos in integrated leisure complexes, sports and non-sports betting and online casinos. Licences for bingo and video bingo halls would be valid for 20 years, renewable for the same period, and would fall under the jurisdiction of the states. Licences for casinos meanwhile would be valid for 30 years, and may be renewed for successive periods if the law is approved. While the bill was rejected by the House Committee on Constitution, Justice and Citizenship (CCJ) in March 2018 this does not necessarily mean an end to the bill in the Senate. The project can still be analysed by another committee or go directly to a vote in the plenary if the President of the Senate so decides. However, two bills need to be considered before PLS 186/2014 can go before the Senate plenary once again.

The first was put forward by Senator Fernando Bezerra Coelho whose project (PLS 595/2015), provides for the promotion of ecotourism in Federal Conservation Units through the administration of hotels which would be allowed to operate casinos on protected land in order to raise revenue for the protection and conservation of the environment, and finance government environmental policy when it comes to conservation areas.

The second was put forward by Senator Wellington Fagundes in March this year who called for sending bill PL 186/2014 for analysis in the Tourism Commission given the importance of the issue to encourage the development of the regional tourism industry.

Gaming law has had a turbulent time in the Senate. In October 2015, Senator Benedito de Lira asked for the Senate’s approval for Senator Noguiera’s 2014 law. Speaking in a plenary session, the Senator asked for the approval of Senate Bill 186/2014, arguing that in times of crisis and due to lack of resources, the regulation of gambling in Brazil could significantly increase tax generated by the state. Among the benefits of regulation, he said were the promotion of tourism, an increased investment in infrastructure, job creation and increased tax collection.

However, PLS 186/2014 was rejected in December 2016 with senators voting 44 votes in favour and 19 against with senators voting that it be returned for further analysis in the House Committee on Constitution, Justice and Citizenship. As a result, the proposal was withdrawn from the agenda and was subject to further analysis.

In December 2017 Benedito de Lira, presented a new report based on a series of proposed amendments and asked for a new collective hearing for the bill due to the scope of the newly proposed amendments. The new version of the bill proposed a significant number of changes when it comes to anti money laundering measures, player protection measures and taxation.

However, the House Committee on Constitution, Justice and Citizenship committee rejected the bill in March 2018 arguing that the bill, if approved, could encourage criminal practices such as money laundering, in addition to increasing cases of gambling addiction.

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