Exclusive- 'Gambling should be treated as an economic agenda, no longer as a custom', says Ângelo Coronel

After three decades of discussion, Brazil saw the Chamber of Deputies finally approve, on 2/24/22, the regulation of games of skill and chance throughout the national territory.

By 246 votes against 202, the Chamber of Deputies approved the basic text of the bill that legalizes gambling in Brazil, such as casinos, bingos, Jogo do Bicho and online gambling.

As of this Thursday (24), the Plenary can vote on the highlights presented by the parties in an attempt to make changes to the opinion of Deputy Felipe Carreras (PSB – PE) for Bill 442/91.

According to the text, the casinos may be installed in resorts as part of an integrated leisure complex that must contain at least 100 high-end hotel rooms, meeting and event venues, restaurants, bars and shopping centers. The physical space of the casino must be, at most, equal to 20% of the built-up area of ​​the complex, and electronic and roulette, card games and other authorized modalities can be explored.

Ângelo Coronel is an engineer affiliated with the Social Democratic Party and is currently a Senator of the Republic. He spoke with iGaming Brazil about the first approval and what lies ahead.

Check the interview in full.

iGaming Brazil- What are the reasons why a gigantic market like Brazil is still at odds with what is happening in the world in terms of regulated gambling? How to work together with opponents like the Church or some local politicians, who continue to have a negative image of gambling and do not understand the advance of illegality?

Coronel – The main reason is the lack of knowledge of the positive economic and social impacts that formalization can bring to the country, making Brazil the exception in Mercosur regarding the legalization of gambling and only one of the three G-20 countries in this situation.

Gambling should be treated as an economic agenda, no longer as customs. There are estimates that the legalization of gambling can add up to more than R$ 50 billion in public coffers, resources that would increase Auxílio Brasil by more than 50%. Allied to this, we have the possibility of formalizing more than 500 thousand jobs.

Another way to work with opponents is to explain the corrective mechanisms of some criticisms, such as the prevention of money laundering, the regulatory mechanisms of operators and responsible gaming policies, curbing the effects of gambling.

iGaming Brazil – Which states or territories of the country do you consider most favorable for the installation of casinos and the dissemination of an attractive offer of gambling?

Coronel – This is a marketing issue, which generally depends on the purchasing power of the federation unit, on the proximity of international airports and tourist attractions. Some states, including Bahia, have good potential to attract these investments.

iGaming Brazil – What do you think of the text that says: There may be three casinos when the population of the state is greater than 25 million (only São Paulo) and for states with more than 15 million and up to 25 million, there may be two casinos (the case of Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro). In other states and in the Federal District, with a population of up to 15 million inhabitants, there may be only one casino.

Coronel – This was something discussed in the Chamber and that should be studied, according to market conditions.

iGaming Brazil – And regarding ships, where these vessels cannot be anchored in the same location for more than 30 consecutive days, and the concession can be for up to ten establishments.

Coronel – Look, on the one hand, entrepreneurs need to have access to markets, but we cannot demand very different regulations for relatively similar activities. These devices attempt to resolve this issue.

iGaming Brazil – In other words, are the conditions favorable and consistent with the structures of Brazilian states, or do they aim to hamper their opening?

Coronel – They are an excellent first step, but nothing prevents regulation and market access from being modified once gambling are legalized.

The following still has to be weighed: the casinos still lack a longer period for installation. I estimate that between construction, environmental licenses, operating licenses, approval of regulations, interconnection of systems and the effective operation of casinos, months or even years will pass.

On the other hand, less complex modalities such as bingos, Jogo do Bicho and slot machines, which have installation limitations by population such as casinos, should be installed more quickly.

iGaming Brazil – How do you imagine that the game in Brazil will evolve in the next three to five years, taking into account the strong domestic market and the great interest of operators and international providers in entering it?

Coronel – Estimates indicate that illegal gambling has already surpassed legal gambling in Brazil: in 2019, legal gambling generated BRL 17 billion, while illegal gambling generated BRL 27 billion.

However, with the formalization, I believe that the potential of games will exceed 1% of GDP, something not very different from what is observed in European countries.

Gambling is something present in Brazilian daily life. To deny gambling, is to “cover the sun with a sieve” and leave resources on the table that could be applied by the State for the benefit of the population.