Irajá defende a regulamentação dos cassinos no Brasil
Imagem: Senador Irajá (Agência Senado / Geraldo Magela)

Senator Irajá, rapporteur of the bill that aims to legalize casinos, bingos and Jogo do Bicho in Brazil, is one of the proposal’s biggest enthusiasts. According to him, it is estimated that up to R$40 billion will be raised from the gambing regulation.

If the new legislation is approved, the number of tourists arriving in the country could double in up to eight years.

Voting is once again postponed in the CCJ

So, Irajá remains optimistic for the approval of the project, although they have once again postponed the vote in the Senate’s Constitution and Justice Commission (CCJ) until next Wednesday (19).

In any case, the expectation is that approval will also occur in the Plenary, to proceed to presidential sanction. The text has already passed the Chamber of Deputies in 2022.

Irajá reported that the Minister of Finance, Fernando Haddad, supports the project. “They [from the Ministry of Finance] are among the most enthusiastic. I look at the social side of the project, and the Treasury, as is its duty, looks at the economic side. The fundraising will be something fabulous for the country”, he stated.

But, although the Treasury does not publicly defend the project, Irajá declared, privately, that “Haddad says he is in favor because he understands that it is good for the country”.

The Minister of Tourism, Celso Sabino, is named by the rapporteur as “one of the great defenders” of the text. “[The Minister of Tourism] is super excited and also confident in the approval of this matter.

We are betting heavily that Brazil will have integrated resorts as a major anchor for global tourism and may be able to double the number of tourists in the world within five to eight years”, declared Irajá.

Sabino confirmed that he has been following the proceedings. He said that he has received international investors interested in making investments in the country for the construction of resorts with casinos in different regions.

Casinos can generate up to R$40 billion in revenue in Brazil
President of the CCJ, Davi Alcolumbre postponed the vote until next week. Photo: Reproduction / TV Senado

Resorts with casinos would help raise billions of reais

According to the minister, there is an agreement between the government and Legislative leaders for the issue to move forward. “There is full enthusiasm and agreement between the Minister of Tourism, Arthur [Lira], [Rodrigo] Pacheco, Davi [Alcolumbre] and the rapporteurs to approve this project”, explained Sabino.

“The release of integrated resorts in the country will allow national tourism to experience another reality, a new moment, with many more tourists traveling through the country, generating thousands of new jobs and billions of reais in investments”, he added.

Despite resistance from the evangelical bench, which is working to reject the text, Irajá believes that the project will receive the green light. The thermometer, in his view, was the vote on the project that released online games, at the end of 2023.

“This topic of gambling is not unanimous, not by a long shot. We know this and we don’t even expect there to be an elastic score. But, in conversations with the parties, with colleagues, I believe that we will have a majority vote.”

“There is no chance of us being in favor of gambling”, declared senator Carlos Viana (Podemos-MG), president of the Evangelical Parliamentary Front. “We understand that the money generated from this regulation does not compensate for the damage it brings to society”, argued Viana.

For Irajá, the casino project is the target of a prejudiced view

According to the rapporteur, the project is the target of a “prejudiced” and ideological view on the part of colleagues. “I think there is a certain prejudice. Many argue the issue of currency evasion and tax evasion. Because it was thought that people today go to the integrated resort, for bingo, take a bag of money and play. That doesn’t exist anymore. Today the entire process is electronic”, he pondered.

“Regarding the issue of addiction, today anyone with a cell phone gambles. If he’s not going to play here in the country to raise taxes here, he’s going to play somewhere else. I respect opinions, but the arguments don’t hold water. I don’t know of a civilized country that has regulated gaming and gone back,” he added.

Senator Irajá limited himself to making small editorial changes to the text that the Chamber approved, without changing the merits of the project. One of them removes the prediction that the resorts where the casinos will be installed must be built from scratch and provides that it is enough for the buildings to be “destined” for this type of activity.

“We are going to make an editorial adjustment by changing the word ‘built’ to ‘destined’. It can be a project from scratch or a pre-existing project. We cannot eliminate the prospect of exploring national enterprises that are already there.”

Licenses for operating casinos

Asked about the number of licenses for exploration being linked to the population issue of states and municipalities, Irajá argued that the limitation was a way to move the project forward. According to the text, each state will have the right to a casino, except:

  • São Paulo, which could have three
  • Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, Amazonas and Pará, which may have a maximum of two

For Jogo do Bicho, the forecast is one point for every 700,000 inhabitants, and for bingos, the rule is one for every 150,000 people.

“I think the market should define the quantities. Because it is the companies that will make these investments that will say whether it is viable. That said, as it is something new and we are saying so many things about prejudice, resistance, we ended up opting for a more conservative project. If it works, the tendency is for us to expand these licenses”, he pointed out.

Therefore, Irajá sees the regulation of the game as positive and is not afraid that the new rule could interfere in possible disputes between the current explorers of the sport. “We are going to organize this by bringing into legality what is illegal today. What you can’t do is pretend that it doesn’t exist,” he declared.

The rapporteur also explained that, if Jogo do Bicho is regulated, the illegal exploitation of the sport will no longer be classified as a misdemeanor. Thus, if someone is caught playing illegal gambling, then it will be considered a crime.

Finally, Irajá stated that the regulation of the National Gaming and Betting System (Sinaj) will be the responsibility of the Executive Branch.