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Brazil – Jogo do bicho gambling game could be legalised in Brazil

By - 8 June 2015

A special committee in the Brazilian Congress has been charged with reviewing proposed legalisation which would legalise the popular ‘jogo do bicho’ or animal game according to the website of the Chamber of Deputies.

The act, read by Deputy Vitor Valim (PMDB-CE), at its meeting on Tuesday (June 2), creates a special committee to consider the proposal and contains other clauses which would also legalise bingos and casinos in resorts.

The cross party commission, which was established last Tuesday at the initiative of the President of the lower house, Eduardo Cunha, is made up of 26 lawmakers. They have 40 sessions in order to discuss draft law number 442 which dates back to 1991, before a vote is taken.

When the law was first introduced in 1991, the author of the project, former deputy Renato Vianna argued that the animal game should be decriminalised, so that it could be regulated saying that the game finances “crimes such as arms and drug trafficking drugs and illegal slot machines. It is also a powerful instrument of corruption, as crime lords use it to bribe police and lawyers,” he said. The act however was shelved. Deputies arguing for change today say that the revenue generated by a legalised version of the game could be allocated to municipalities where it could be used for education and health.

The game is particularly popular in Rio de Janeiro where it is currently controlled by clandestine and criminal organisations, whose leaders, known as’ bicheiros’- usually finance the impressive and world famous Carnival parades. The lottery-type drawing, operated on a regional basis by criminals known as contraventores, has been illegal since 1946 in 25 of the 26 states with Paraiba being the only state where the game is legal and regulated.

The game was first founded in 1892 by Baron Drummond Joao Batista Viana, founder and owner of Rio de Janeiro Zoo. To overcome a crisis in its finances, the baron had the idea to create the lottery and allowed the bettor to choose 1 of the 25 animals in the zoo. Each species is associated with a sequence of four numbers ranging between 1 and 100.It is believed that the game is so popular today that it matches the national lottery in terms of revenue.

Illegal gambling in Brazil has been a long running issue and gambling in Brazil is the most politically charged issue in the region due primarily to the proven links between gambling and organised crime. Worth billions of dollars each year, today The Animal Game is played widely and numbers runners have repeatedly been found to operate bingo halls and offer politicians and local officials bribes in return for closure.

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