Proposal for legalization of gambling generates debates, but may be voted on in November

The debate over the legalization of gambling and betting in Brazil continues in Congress, but putting the Centrão bench in friction with evangelicals. The Central Plateau tries not to get involved in the discussion of this topic that is gaining more and more prominence on the national scene. However, Flávio Bolsonaro (Patriota-RJ) is one of the supporters of this measure.

The representatives of the Centrão want a vast project, which includes numerous modalities and even the Jogo do Bicho. The argument is that this action should stimulate both the economy and tourism. Remembering that games are banned in the national territory for more than seven decades. In 1946, then-president Eurico Gaspar Dutra banned the practice as he considered the games “harmful to morals and good customs”.

Recently, the president of the Chamber, Deputy Arthur Lira (Progressistas-AL), created a working group to evaluate the matter. Deputy Felipe Carreras (PSB-PE) is the rapporteur and the project can be put to a vote in the plenary next month. In an article published this Thursday, the 14th, the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo elaborated on this issue.

Gambling liberation sets Centrão against Evangelicals

The discussion on the legalization of gambling advances in Congress with the support of the Centrão. Evangelicals are against it. Palácio do Planalto avoids taking a stand, but senator Flávio Bolsonaro (Patriota-RJ) defends the measure.

The advance of congressional discussions on the legalization of gambling has placed two of the Jair Bolsonaro administration’s main allies in opposing camps. On the one hand, the Centrão is acting to approve a broad proposal, which includes the release of the animal game, under the justification that it will favor the economy and promote tourism. On the other hand, evangelicals say that gambling is bad for families and contradicts values ​​they uphold.

Palácio do Planalto avoids taking a stand on the matter, but the eldest son of the President of the Republic, senator Flávio Bolsonaro (Patriota-RJ), is one of the advocates of making gambling legal in the country.

Gambling has been banned in Brazil since 1946, when then-president Eurico Gaspar Dutra stated that the country’s “moral, legal and religious tradition” did not match the practice, in addition to considering them “harmful to morals and good customs ”. Since then, several proposals have been put forward to legalize gambling, but none have moved forward.

One of the leaders of the Centrão, the president of the Chamber, Arthur Lira (Progressistas-al), decided to try again and created, last month, a working group to discuss a project on the subject. He appointed Deputy Felipe Carreras (PSB-PE), his ally, as rapporteur, and intends to put the proposal to a vote in the plenary in November.

The starting point of Carreras’ text is a project approved by a special committee of the Chamber in 2016, but which was never scheduled for a vote in the plenary. The proposal regulates the activities of resort casinos, slot machines, online betting, bingo and Jogo do Bicho, in addition to a general amnesty, extinguishing legal proceedings in progress. Today, exploring these activities is considered a misdemeanor, with a penalty of up to one year in prison.

According to Carreras, although the project is broad and includes the animal game, its focus will be to release casinos integrated into resorts. “It has an instrument to inspect and collect. What is the consequence of this? Generate formal employment. When you bring (to Brazil) the great integrated casinos of resorts in the world, you have a tourist product. Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Portugal, United Kingdom, Canada, Mexico have (casino)”, said the rapporteur.

While Lira speeds up the debate in the Chamber, the Senate is also analyzing at least three bills on gambling. The president of the House, Rodrigo Pacheco (DEMMG), declared two weeks ago that he can put one of them to a vote if there is an agreement.

Under the report of senator Ângelo Coronel (PSD-BA), one of the proposals is limited to regulating the opening of casinos in hotels. According to Colonel, the release of these projects could generate revenues of R$ 30 billion per year for the country. The calculation is based on the participation that the games have in Italy’s economy and considers that the taxation on them in Brazil would be similar to that applied today in sports betting. “In Italy, around 1.3% of GDP is the result of gambling. If we take Italy as a base, the revenue for federated entities (in Brazil) will be around R$ 30 billion with taxation similar to the sports tax paid by Caixa Econômica Federal”, he said.

Colonel has Flávio Bolsonaro’s lobby in his favor. Early last year, the president’s son visited casinos in Las Vegas, accompanied by the then president of Embratur and now Minister of Tourism, Gilson Machado, and senator Irajá Abreu (PSD-TO), who is also the author of a project that provides casinos at resorts. At the time, the group met with Sheldon Adelson, a Donald Trump supporter who ran Las Vegas Sands, one of the largest companies in the world in the casino business. Adelson also met in 2018 with Bolsonaro, then president-elect, and with Economy Minister Paulo Guedes. The American died in January of this year.

Despite his son’s lobbying, Bolsonaro has said that if the legalization of the games is approved, he will veto the measure, but has left open the possibility that his decision will not be final. “I think there will be more to lose than gain right now. If, by chance, it approves, it has my veto, which is natural, and then Congress can overturn the veto. Yes, what is being discussed so far will have my veto. Period”, said the president to Veja magazine at the end of September.

The government leader in the Chamber, Deputy Ricardo Barros (Progressistas-pr), said, however, that there is no official position of Planalto on the subject. “It depends on the scope,” he said in relation to the government’s support or veto of the initiative.

‘Principles’. The evangelical segment says it will spare no efforts to prevent the legalization of gambling from progressing. “My position against the legalization of gambling remains the same, I am viscerally against it, and, as it is a matter of principles, it will never change,” said Congressman Marco Feliciano (Republicanos-sp), evangelical pastor and one of the closest congressmen of Bolsonaro. “I haven’t talked about this matter with the president, but as far as I know him, I don’t think he’s in favor of it.”

Tax auditors have also been pressing for the initiative not to be approved. The National Association of Tax Auditors of the Federal Revenue of Brazil (Anfip) released a statement at the end of last year according to which “the harmful effects resulting from gambling outweigh any possible economic gain arising from the practice”.

“In addition to encouraging illegal activities such as corruption, prostitution, drug trafficking and money laundering, it can cause serious damage to health, triggering diseases such as ludopathy – pathological compulsive disorder recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO), caused by gambling addiction ”, stated the association.