Gambling’s Gray Area: Brazil

Gambling’s Gray Area: Brazil

Where gambling is concerned, Brazil is an interesting gray area. It also represents a possible location for future projects for gaming companies, if the companies can be assured their enterprises will be successful without any restrictions. While many people want gambling enterprises to be legal in Brazil, the Brazilian government is dragging its feet on a bill to legalize it. In spite of that, people in the largest country in South America continue to gamble.

History of Gambling in Brazil

History of Gambling in BrazilBrazil has a long history of gambling. In fact, for hundreds of years, many indigenous tribes had bet on games. During the Portuguese colonization, the country still continued its gambling craze. While different types of gambling were introduced as the country grew, such as poker from the United States, the love of gaming in Brazil has not waned. This is interesting because gaming has not been legal in the country for more than 70 years.

In 1946, the Social Democrats came to power in Brazil and, almost immediately, declared gambling to be illegal. They said the reason they wanted to ban it was because of organized crime. Gambling halls were closed down, and the politicians tried to stamp it out. They declared lotteries and betting on horse racing to be the only legal gaming in the country. However, gambling was still very popular.

The Problem with the Law

The law has left the gambling industry in an interesting position. Casinos are banned, yet online casino gaming exists in an unregulated fashion. Sources estimated that more than $265 million was spent in 2017 on online gaming in the country. In addition to the online gaming industry, video gambling machines are also considered legal because they were not covered by the 1946 law. Interestingly, video gaming machines are not located in casinos. Instead, they are located in bingo halls, which are legal in the country because, under the law in Brazil, bingo halls are considered a type of lottery.

Efforts to Change the Law

There have been several attempts over the years to change the law to either allow all forms of gaming or to reverse gaming laws completely. The latest bill is 4 years old, but it has not been able to pass because the consensus of the members of the National Congress is that, in its current form, it cannot pass. The most current bill would have allowed online gaming, sports betting, land-based casinos, bingo halls, video games, and one of the country’s favorite, jogo do bicho – an animal card game that is more popular than poker.

The debate over the bill has raged on for more than four years, but there has been no movement toward a vote by the National Congress. Many Brazilian legislators have argued that legalization would bring in a lot of jobs to a struggling economy. However, the opposition has said that if the nation allows multiple gaming services, it will increase the number of problem gamblers in the country. There has also been a plan for Brazil to legalize two resort casinos that are presently considered illegal. One is in Rio de Janeiro and the other is in Sao Paulo. The two casinos have been operating illegally for more than 20 years, and, therefore, they pay no taxes. Many Brazilians feel that if a country is going to legalize alcohol, it needs to legalize all gaming. It remains to be seen whether gambling’s giant gray area of a country will figure out what laws need to be passed in order to make the business legal across the board.

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