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Il-kumitat tas-Senat jiddibatti l-legalizzazzjoni tal-logħob tal-azzard fil-Brażil

By - 13 ta' Mejju 2024

Participants in a public hearing at the Constitution and Justice Committee (CCJ) in the Senate on Thursday (9) had differing opinions on the impact of the liberalization of gambling on tourism. The debate was in response to requests from Senators Carlos Viana u, Eduardo Girão to discuss a bill authorizing the operation of casinos and bingo halls, legalizing “jogo do bicho,” and betting on horse races.  The Bill (PL) 2,234/2022, from the Chamber of Deputies, is being reviewed by Senatur Irajá in the committee.

Skond Carlos Henrique Sobral, National Secretary of Infrastructure, Credit, and Investments at the Ministry of Tourism, Brazil has been stagnant at the same annual number of 6 million international visitors. For him, casinos could boost the sector.

The federal government estimates a 20% increase in the current 214,000 tourism-related jobs if gambling is legalized, along with a growth of 1.2% in tourism’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Currently, according to Sobral, the tourism sector represents just 8% of GDP.

Alex Pariente, Vice President of Casino Operations at Hard Rock International, stated that the number of Brazilians travelling to Las Vegas to take part in gambling activities is significant. In his opinion, these individuals could be impacting Brazil’s economy.

“If we can use all kinds of resources in a very controlled manner to strengthen tourist arrivals, instead of exports as it is today, I think it is a very significant benefit,” he said.

On the other hand, according to the prosecutor of the Ministry of Public Prosecution of Minas Gerais, André Estevão Ubaldino Pereira, the lack of growth in tourism in Brazil is due to public safety issues such as homicides and their link to drug trafficking. In his assessment, the approval of the bill would strengthen criminal organizations and worsen tourism.

Sadanittant Gilberto Pereira, Executive Vice President of the National Association of Federal Revenue Auditors of Brazil (Anfip), stated that Anfip is against the bill due to issues related to tax evasion and the association of casinos with criminal organizations.

However, according to the expert in enforcement and regulation, Guilherme Luís Dias, Brazilian companies already have national technology that allows for proper oversight.

“The obstacle of control and oversight does not exist. There is Brazilian technology capable of controlling the cash flow of these devices. It is perfectly possible for the Brazilian state to authorize any number of machines it wants.”

The Bill authorizes the installation of casinos in tourist hubs or integrated leisure complexes, such as high-standard hotels with at least 100 rooms, restaurants, bars, and spaces for meetings and cultural events. The text foresees the installation of one casino in each state and the Federal District. Exceptions are made for the states of São Paulo (up to three casinos) and Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, Amazonas, and Pará (up to two casinos). Casinos can also be installed on maritime vessels (up to ten, nationwide) and on river vessels with at least 50 rooms.

Furthermore, in each state and the Federal District, one legal entity may be accredited to operate “jogo do bicho” for every 700,000 inhabitants. As for horse race betting, it can be operated by tourist entities accredited by the Ministry of Agriculture. These same entities may also be accredited to simultaneously operate bingo games, as long as they are held in the same location as where they offer horse racing.

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