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Brazil – Urgent request to discuss Brazil’s gambling bill approved in Chamber of Deputies

By - 20 December 2021

The Chamber of Deputies has approved the request to deal with bill PL 442/91, which legalizes casino and other types of gambling in the country, as a matter of urgency. The decision means that the law can now be voted on without going through committee stage. Despite opposition from the evangelical caucus the request for a vote in the plenary was approved with 293 votes in favour, 138 against and 11 abstentions. The motion was passed after President of the Chamber of Deputies Arthur Lira held meetings and negotiated between the leaders of different political groups including the opposition. Lira announced that Gambling Bill PL 442/91 would be debated in the House of Deputies in February 2022. Legislators will be able to submit amendments to the bill before then.

Long time supporter of gambling reform Herculano Passos stated that the measure would bring significant resources to Brazil. “We want to legalize what is working illegally so that the country can raise resources to help people have a better quality of life through taxes collected from legalized gambling. We also want to generate employment and income because our country needs to generate employment and income,” he said.

According to the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies News Agency leader of the Cidadania Party in the House Deputy Alex Manente also welcomed the news saying it would lead to a more meaningful debate on the issue. “Many Brazilians go to other places (to bet). We have a lot of clandestine gaming in our country and we pretend it doesn’t exist. We need to discuss the legalization of these games that generate wealth for so many countries,” he said.

Deputy Felipe Carreras, who served as rapporteur of the drafting of the new version of gambling legislation in the lower house, stated that gambling and betting are part of the culture and history of the Brazilian people and, therefore, needed to be legalized to encourage tourism. In addition offshore online sites target players in Brazil without supervision.

The religious caucus in the lower house had done its absolute best to sink the bill and had tried to block the vote. Pastor Silas Malafaia, a close ally of President Jair Bolsonaro, said the President had reiterated his opposition to gambling.

“I spoke with the President by phone after posting my video, and he told me that he was going to veto the law. He said this is absurd, that it does not help the economy and that it hurts retirees.”  

Through a video released recently, Malafaia had described the project as “social shame” and criticized the Deputy Arthur Lira, for “wanting to approve this garbage” before the end of the years legislative sessions.

“This is such a shameful thing that it only interests powerful economic groups and corrupt money launderers. It does not benefit the country’s economy at all,” he said.

Earlier this month Lira had sounded out evangelical congressmen over their willingness to reach an agreement over proposals that would allow for gambling in Brazil. However the evangelical bench said that they would not be able to support any kind of liberalisation under any circumstances. The attempt to gather support for the new bill was carried out during a dinner with members of the Evangelical Parliamentary Front. To the group, Lira said that his intention would be to “unite extremes”, working in a union on sensitive issues, such as gambling. Lira assured the bench that strict player protection measures would be put in place.  

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