Agnaldo Timóteo: ‘legalizing the Jogo do Bicho is something fundamental today’

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Photo: Agencia Brasil

Continuing the series of reports on the website “Tribuna da Imprensa Livre” to stimulate the discussion about the legalization of the gaming market in Brazil, journalist Luiz Carlos Prestes Filho spoke with the singer Agnaldo Timóteo.

For the artist, betting games managed by the private sector need to be released promptly in Brazil. During his career as a councilor and federal deputy, the singer was one of the defenders of the legalization of Jogo do Bicho and even used the gallery of the legislature to talk about the subject.

Timóteo assured that he never omitted his position and continues in favor of the liberation of these activities in Brazil: “I defended and I defend the regulation of the gambling”.

Check out Agnaldo Timóteo’s interview

Luiz Carlos Prestes Filho: What is your view on the importance of gaming regulation in Brazil?

Agnaldo Timóteo: First of all, I understand that the citizen must have the freedom to spend his money as he wishes. The State in this specific case cannot impose its authority. Why do citizens have to go to Las Vegas or Punta del Leste to place their money bets? Absurd.

But from what I follow, today the Chamber of Deputies of Brasília wants to legalize the Resort Casinos. Casino is something for the rich, we have to legalize the Jogo do Bicho which is the game of the people, which is not addictive, which is democratic and 100% honest!

Luiz Carlos Prestes Filho: As a federal deputy, what were the referrals made in favor of regulation?

Agnaldo Timóteo: As a legislator, unfortunately, I never sent a specific project about games. But whenever the topic was covered, I made strong pronouncements in favor of the freedom to play. Also because I have always been treated very well by the bicheiros.

I did not have the privilege of former presidents Tancredo Neves, Fernando Collor or Fernando Henrique Cardoso. They could ask for money from the Industry Federations or Trade Associations. If I had executive positions, I could ask for money for my campaigns at Shell or the automotive industry conglomerate.

I never had that privilege. So, I asked for and received money from Jogo do Bicho. Even for my artistic activities. I never hid that the bicheiros always treated me with dignity throughout my life and musical trajectory. I would like to point out that the bicheiros, who helped me so much, never asked for anything in return. I am a romantic singer, I have nothing to give but my voice.

Now the question remains. Did entrepreneurs and companies, industry federations and trade associations ask for something in return to support the aforementioned former presidents of the Republic?

Luiz Carlos Prestes Filho: Should all games be regulated?

Agnaldo Timóteo: This must be resolved by the experts. There may be some impediments to some modalities. But again, you have to legalize the Jogo do Bicho. This is a century-old practice in our country. And I’m brazilian.

The Jogo do Bicho is like samba and carnival. A popular tradition of betting that crossed all democratic regimes and authoritarian military governments, throughout the history of the Republic of Brazil.

Today, more than one million professionals work as bookmakers on sidewalks and other direct activities. Of course, these workers pay taxes for self-employed people so that, when they reach retirement age, they can live with dignity.

These professionals cannot declare that they work with the Bicho. Then, they choose other professions such as porters, mechanics, electricians, firefighters or drivers, among others. Why not bring this one million Brazilians to legality? The bicheiros openly wish to contribute to social development.

It is pure hypocrisy that the tax and police bodies – every year – announce in a tone of discovery, the existence of money from the misdemeanor. After more than 100 years of existence, the Jogo do Bicho is suddenly discovered. Move dirty money! They want to convince me that my money and the money of millions of Brazilians, who bet on the Animal Game every day, is dirty!

Do you want me to believe that only the money from Mega Sena, Quina, Loto and horse racing is clean? This is immorality! When there are movements against the bicheiros, I realize that the government really wants to take this type of game into their hands that never had scams.

Well, it never happened at Jogo do Bicho anything like the fraud of the Budget Dwarves. How sad it was to see politicians and executives of the Federal Government getting their hands dirty, stealing public money from the lotteries managed by Caixa Econômica Federal (CEF).

Luiz Carlos Prestes Filho: What is your opinion about the Law of Criminal Misdemeanors?

Agnaldo Timóteo: An aberration! The effects of Law 3688 must be canceled. We are in a different world from 1941. The Legalization of the Jogo do Bicho is fundamental today. But the authorization must consider that this type of betting must be managed by those who understand.

We cannot allow the legalized Jogo do Bicho to be transformed into a structure to create more job hangers for those in the pockets in the executive, legislative and judiciary bureaucrats,

So are the lotteries managed by CEF. I always see pressure from government authorities to try to create a formula that promotes depletion of popular interest in the bets of the Jogo do Bicho.

So much so that they invented Loto, Mega Sena, Quina, Sports Lotteries and Scratch Cards for this purpose. The Jogo do Bicho is so spectacular that it survived all these attacks.

Luiz Carlos Prestes Filho: You met Castor de Andrade, Carlinhos Maracanã and Luizinho Drummond, you are friends with Anísio Abraão David. What is your opinion about their contribution to Brazilian culture?

Agnaldo Timóteo: Look, when they make complaints against the bicheiros, they never count how much they invested in cultural events. How much did Natal invested in Portela, along with Carlinhos Maracanã, throughout his life?

How much did Castor de Andrade invested in Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel? Luizinho Drummond at Imperatriz Leopoldinense, Ailton Guimarães Jorge at Vila Isabel and Anísio Abraão David at Beija-Flor de Nilópolis?

Do you think that these Samba Schools were maintained only with the art of samba? Samba has its strength, of course, but the bicheiros have always contributed, the time has come to finally recognize that.