Amid a growing debate and ongoing discussions involving all facets of gambling, Brazil’s Senate continues to deliberate on another landmark bill that would legalize and regulate the operation of land-based casinos, bingo halls, and horse racing betting in the country.
A landscape view of Sao Paolo, Brazil. The country’s Senate is slowly working on a bill that would authorize land-based casinos. (Image: National Geographic)
The proposal, which the Chamber of Deputies introduced over a year ago, has sparked mixed reactions. Supporters highlight the potential economic benefits and job creation opportunities, while opponents raise concerns about potential social and ethical implications.
There was a chance that the bill would see renewed progress Wednesday, appearing on the calendar of the Senate’s Constitution, Justice and Citizenship Commission (CCJ, for its Portuguese acronym). However, according to an update on the calendar, that meeting has been canceled.
Where the Bill Stands
The potential legislation suggests that casinos could be allowed within tourist destinations or integrated parks, with the allocation of one casino per state and the Federal District. São Paulo has been granted special privileges that would allow it to accommodate three casinos. Additionally, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, Amazonas, and Pará can each establish two casinos within their jurisdictions.
For businesses to be eligible to engage in casino activities, they must exhibit a minimum of BRL100 million in paid-up capital (US$20 million). Moreover, they must be granted a license granting them 30 years of validity.
The bill proposes a comprehensive framework for overseeing the game of bingo, encompassing both physical cards and their digital counterparts. Moreover, the legislation empowers each state to designate a single legal entity to oversee and conduct the traditional Brazilian game of Jogo do Bicho, a popular type of lottery-based game.
Only one Jogo do Bicho license will be issued for every region with a population of 700K or more. The licenses will be valid for 25 years, after which they can be renewed for another 25 years.
Regarding horse racing betting, the legislation empowered the Ministry of Agriculture’s tourism agencies to procure a permit for conducting operations. Additionally, these organizations are eligible to possess licenses for hosting tournaments involving traditional and digital forms of bingo.
Tax Rate Still Uncertain
To generate revenue from the regulated gambling industry, the bill proposes two new taxes. Operators would have to pay a Gaming and Betting Inspection Fee and an Intervention Contribution.
The former, with a rate of up to 17% on the gross revenue of betting companies, would be earmarked for the inspection and surveillance of gambling activities. The latter, still under consideration, would generate further revenue for government coffers.
When the Brazil Senate recently approved a sports betting bill, it lowered the tax rate that had initially been suggested. The final version of the bill recommends 12%, a drop of 6%. As such, there’s also a chance that the new casino bill could see a reduction in the Gaming and Betting Inspection Fee.
Even though there have been mixed reactions to the bill among legislators, it remains alive. It has garnered significant support from various sectors, including the tourism industry and gaming companies, who see it as an opportunity to revitalize their businesses.
With the year drawing to a close, there’s virtually no chance that the bill will make an appearance in front of the CCJ. Once it does, it still needs a plenary vote and approval before heading back to the Chamber of Deputies.
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