Brazil: Jair Bolsonaro’s election may threaten gambling regulation

“We know that if casinos were allowed here, they would be used as a money-laundering tool,” Jair Bolsonaro stated.

Brazil |

The president-elect’s recent statements might hinder the progress towards legalized gambling in the country, although some experts believe there is still a chance, as this activity could help raise new taxes.


he conservative, far-right, national congressman Jair Messias Bolsonaro, has been elected as Brazil’s next president after securing 57.7 million votes, 55% of the country’s total.

Bolsonaro granted his first interview as president-elect in Rio de Janeiro, accompanied by allies such as Magno Malta (PR-ES) and Onyx Lorenzoni (DEM-RS), opponents of legalized gambling in the nation. This hint, together with press statements that portray Bolsonaro as a “conservative very much close to Evangelicalism advances,” suggest that the government may not be willing to legalize this activity.

Some industry members even believe that Bolsonaro’s closeness to Magno Malta may pose a threat to gaming regulation. “Even taking into account the importance of traditional, conservative and religious values to the president-elect and those surrounding him, the fact is that the gambling industry generates tax collection, investments, and jobs,” Brazil’s pro-gambling analysts assure.

Bolsonaro and the gambling industry

Bolsonaro spoke with attorney Daniel Homem de Carvalho at a Rio de Janeiro Business Association lunch (ACRJ in Portuguese), where he expressed his views against legalized gambling. However, during his presidential campaign, he issued ambiguous declarations, publicly assuring there was a chance to take advantage of a law providing for gambling regulation.

“There is a possibility, and I’m just saying a possibility, that we submit this issue for debate. Personally, I am against it, but it is a new topic that could be addressed,” he had said at the time. “We are going to evaluate which is the best scenario. Of course, regulation should exist, but, for instance, slot machines should not be allowed.”

However, his strong views against gambling were manifested last Wednesday, when he denied the assertions made by the daily newspaper Correio Braziliense, which informed that the president-elect would legalize casinos in the country.

“This is unbelievable: Now I am supposedly legalizing casinos in Brazil. Me? No one could believe such nonsense! We know that if casinos were allowed here, they would be used as a money-laundering tool. Also, they would be detrimental to Brazilian homes, as many people give themselves away to gambling addiction, causing major family chaos,” Bolsonaro said.

It is worth noting that in December 2010, when the Chamber of Deputies discussed the Amendment to Bill 2944/04 —a proposed legislation for Bingos—, Bolsonaro, who by then served as congressman, voted against it.

Some analysists remain hopeful

Current circumstances seem to indicate that Brazil will not regulate gambling any time soon, at least during Bolsonaro’s administration. However, some analysists believe that this issue could still be submitted to Congress debate, mainly because this activity could help the government raise new taxes.

Maghno José, head of daily newspaper BNL Magocom, believes that “People close to the president-elect and the economic team know that gambling can be used to improve tax collections and generate employment. Moreover, there is no point in keeping a market that generates billions of reales outside the law.”

“The gambling sector will now have the duty to convince politicians that gambling does not pose a danger to society and that this activity should not remain in the illegality. Congress will have to deal with this issue in a pragmatic way, leaving moral and religious questions aside,” he concluded.

Source – Igaming world

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