Once again, the gambling legalization process in Brazil has faced an obstacle. This time, the hurdle originates comes from the highest level, as President Jair Bolsonaro revealed he was against the law that seeks to make casino gambling and sports betting legal in the country.
His statement has come months after he signed a piece of legislation that is set to establish a new taxation base for sports betting services once they are officially given the green light in the country.
Currently, Brazil prepares to pass a final vote on the proposed gambling legislation in the Legislature by the end of 2021. President Bolsonaro, on the other hand, has remained skeptical about the bill and has now shared that he would probably seek to impose a veto on the piece of legislation. The move, however, has not been found right by some of the President’s associates, such as Ciro Nogueira, his chief of staff, who have considered the gambling legalization as a way for Brazil to ensure better controls and regulation on illegal gambling services that have been proliferating in the past years.
President Bolsonaro has warned the supporters of the legislative measure that the Brazilian Government would not back the proposed gambling bill. He further informed the bill’s proponents that he would use his presidential powers to impose a veto on any measure that local legislature passes in terms of legalizing gambling in the country.
President Bolsonaro Says Now Is “Not the Right Time” for Gambling Legalization
Currently, the Brazilian gambling industry is worth about $13 billion. Less than half of it (about $5 billion) is generated by unregulated gambling services. Reportedly, about $1.8 billion is generated by sports betting services, which remain illegal. For the time being, only state-run lotteries and betting on horse races at authorized locations are officially permitted in the country.
The President of Brazil, this is not the right time to pass such a law. However, he acknowledges that Congress would still be able to overturn his veto on gambling if its members decide to do so. He also did not make it clear whether his opposition to the proposed gambling expansion is only temporary or he has had a change of heart which makes him object to the measure altogether.
Mr. Bolsonaro said that, for the time being, the country seems to be losing more than it wins from gambling.
Although the President opposed the proposed piece of legislation, many Members of Parliament have remained supportive of the gambling legalization and will probably back the measure as they see it as a way to boost the tourism sector in the country. Furthermore, if Brazil succeeds in legalizing the proposed gambling expansion bill, it is expected to receive about $3.7 billion in taxes and another $1.3 billion worth of contributions from slot parlors, casinos, bingo halls and online gambling. The legalization of more forms of gambling is also expected to formalize no less than 450,000 jobs and create 200,000 new ones.