Much like their North American neighbors in the United States, Brazil is behind the times when it comes to internet casino laws, but far worse. South America’s largest country not only lacks any formal legislation that either permits or prohibits online gambling, all games of chance and the casino that house them are strictly forbidden all across Brazil.
There’s no denying that Brazilians love to gamble. With no specific laws forbidding them to do so, countless residents are logging onto internet casino websites to play everything from slot machines to blackjack on a daily basis.
It’s also been estimated that, of the avg. 200,000 visitors to Uruguay’s casinos each month, 70% of them are Brazilian nationals crossing the border to partake in the wagering amusements of their southern neighbor’s legal gambling establishments.
First Signs of Progress
In 2013, the government sought to pass a law that would officially criminalize internet gambling. However, the following year, opinions began turning in the opposite direction per the introduction of SB 186/2014. This bill looked to do the opposite, legalizing and regulating internet casino games.
Unfortunately, the bill failed to gain much traction for quite some time, which isn’t surprising since casino games have been illegal in Brazil since 1946. But it did garner just enough interest to keep the bill alive, and thanks to recent amendments – and a terrible financial situation – it’s actually making progress.
Last week, the Brazilian House of Representatives took a fresh look at SB 186/2014, where the newly amended version received the approval of the Special Committee on National Development. Should the bill receive full approval from the Senate, it would add internet gambling to the very short list of permissible wagering activities in the country; currently restricted to national lotteries and licensed sports and horse race betting.
The amended version of Brazil’s iGaming legislation gives exact figures regarding taxation, which has allowed officials to calculate just how much money the government might scrape off the top of licensed operations. Gross revenue would be taxed at 20%, which is twice that of what land-based bookmakers and pari-mutuels are already paying.
The bill could also pave the way for the establishment of brick-and-mortar casinos in Brazil, with video lottery terminals (slot machines) making their way into the text of legal gaming devices.
Poor Economy = Future for Internet Casinos
No doubt, acquiescence to the proposal has been boosted by Brazil’s severe economic situation. With the government’s coffers flowing thin, the R$15 billion (USD $3.7 billion) in additional revenue live and online casino gambling is projected to bring to the country each year is looking a lot more appetizing these days.
If the internet casino bill does make its way into the law books operators would be required to establish a home-office on Brazilian soil. Basedon that fact alone, it’s becoming more and more apparent that passage is the inevitable future as some firms are already setting up shop.
For example, AGT has held a dormant office in Sao Paulo since bingo was outlawed in 2004, but the company is already sweeping out the cobwebs in preparation for the revival. Codere, a Spanish iGaming company, just obtained authorization to launch an online horse race betting site in Brazil, putting them in prime position to expand their services when the time comes.
Brazil Blazing into the 21st Century?
SB 186/2014 was approved by the House on Wednesday, March 9, and landed in the laps of the Senate on Friday, March 11. If passed, it would be the first time in 70 years casino games of any sort were legal in Brazil.