Brazil’s Constitution and Justice Committee (CCJ) is scheduled to meet on Wednesday this week in a bid to take bill PLS 186/14 another stage forward towards enactment. The bill, which will regulate the Jogo do Bicho lottery, land-based and online casinos, sports and non-sports betting, bingo halls and video bingo machines, will be the first topic on the agenda for CCJ members to discuss.
The Brazilian Legal Gaming Institute has said that debate on the project is now guaranteed, but there is one very important caveat, notably that the sector will have to work to guarantee any form of approval at this stage. And there is much work to do.
As things currently stand, Brazil already has gambling – lots of it courtesy of circa two million slot machines and 1,200 unofficial gambling venues, none of which generate a single Real in tax for the government. Hence the recent comments from Nelson Marquezelli, federal deputy of Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies, who said that the country is suffering from ‘big hypocrisy’.
Factor in the criminal element, who will happily fund faith groups and anti-gambling bodies to push against regulation in order to protect the status quo, and it’s clear that the CCJ’s caveat regarding work must be taken with all seriousness.
The point was driven home to great effect at last week’s Brazilian Gaming Congress, where the great and good gathered to debate, lobby and digest all the main issues surrounding Brazil’s road to legalised gambling. They understand fully the rewards that come with a legal gambling environment. Jobs, increased tourism, tax revenues and regeneration are all things to be highly desired, especially in a country that is struggling economically.
They also have a clear grasp of the problems they will have to solve if they want to achieve those rewards. Taxation, or a favourable rate of taxation, is a good starting point. Potential operators will want a quick return on investment. A clear vision of what can be realistically expected in Brazil’s new gambling world is also necessary. The current advice is not to anticipate a replication of the Las Vegas model.
But perhaps the biggest hurdle to overcome is to ensure that every potential stakeholder is on the same page in regard to what they want to achieve. They will have to collaborate more closely than ever before and set aside some key differences of opinion if bill PLS 186/14 is to make it onto the statute books.
That will require a clarity of purpose and a greater degree of togetherness. As former government deputy Regis de Oliveira stated on the closing day of the congress: “We want to make gaming legal, but there is no consensus – we’re bumping heads. We need to get together and tell congress what we want, but while we continue to bump heads nothing will happen.”