Lawmakers have highlighted new casino legislation as key for economic growth as Brazil faces its worst slump in almost 25 years.
In the first anniversary meeting of the Joint Parliamentary Front in Defence of Tourism (FRENTUR) Tourism Minister Alberto Alves said that gaming laws needed to be changed quickly.
“Since 1954 there have been projects which have addressed gaming rules in Brazil. We need our country to benefit from this economic activity,” the minister said.
Meanwhile fellow member of FRENTUR Senator Hélio José reiterated the calls for reform. “We need money to invest and there is no justification for our people to go and play in Las Vegas or in Uruguay. What we are seeing is tax evasion because the possibility of playing here in Brazil does not exist. We are failing to attract tourists and we Brazilians are spending abroad.”
João Bueno from the Brazilian Resorts Association also outlined his support for the new bill, and stressed the positive impact a licensed casino industry would have. “It would be very beneficial for the hotel business, since it is seasonal,” he said.
Made up of 250 deputies and senators, FRENTUR aims to improve legislation in the tourism industry in order to generate income and jobs. Head of FRENTUR Congressman Herculano Passos said that casinos were a key issue for the organisation and would provide a vital impetus to the economic recovery in Brazil.
The government estimates that a new gaming law could generate as much as R$20bn in the first year. The text of the bill would allow for 35 casinos, with at least one per state while some states would be permitted to have as many as three, depending on the population and the economic outlook in each state. Bingos would be permitted in municipalities with more than 150,000 inhabitants.
However present unrest in Brazil could have an impact on government sponsored policy. A wide sweeping corruption investigation led to demonstrations last month across Brazil with an estimated one million to three million protestors calling for President Dilma Rousseff to resign. Rousseff and her party are clinging to power in the face of an investigation into a bribery scandal at state oil company Petrobras. Despite growing calls for her resignation Rousseff, has stated that she will not resign and said her opponents were to blame for causing a political crisis which she said had harmed the economy.
At the same time Rousseff’s political opponents are now attempting to launch impeachment proceedings due to alleged budget irregularities and campaign finance violations while the Brazilian congress voted to abandon her ruling coalition at the end of last month. Although there has been no official word on how this could affect gaming policy the newly drafted gaming law in the senate is reaching an increasingly high level of consensus amongst lawmakers and is viewed as a way of generating much needed additional income for the state.