President Lula da Silva says he will sign bill to legalise casinos in Brazil

The bill still needs to pass through Congress.
The bill still needs to pass through Congress.

Lula Da Silva has said he sees “no reason not to sanction” the casino bill, which has been approved by the lower house.

Brazil.- President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said on Friday that he would sanction the bill to legalise casinos in Brazil. Following the approval of the land-based gambling bill by the Senate Constitution and Justice Committee earlier in the week, he said he saw “no reason not to sanction it” if the bill receives congressional approval.

Speaking in an interview with Rádio Meio Norte in Teresina, Piauí state, Lula Da Silva said he was not keen on gambling but did not think it should be treated as a crime. However, he stressed that the legalisation of casinos and other land-based gambling would “not save the country” in terms of revenue and job creation.

He said: “I don’t believe it when people say, ‘if there’s a casino, the poor will spend everything they have.’ The poor won’t go to the casino, the poor will work in the casino, they might even see their town develop, but they won’t go because the casino is something for people who have money.”

However, he added: “The facile belief that it’ll create two million jobs and bring about development is a misconception. My bet is to get the Brazilian economy growing again; my bet is to invest heavily in professional and technical education, in universities, and in primary education; my bet is to strengthen full-time schools throughout Brazil, to create jobs, increase salaries, and distribute income. That’s what makes people happy. That’s the bet people have to make, and that’s the bet the people are going to win.”

Last week, Senate Constitution and Justice Committee voted 14-12 in favour of Bill No. 2,234/2022, which covers land-based casinos, horseracing betting, bingo and instant win jogo do bicho games. It will now move to the State Plenary for revision.

The land-based gambling reforms had largely stalled since the 2022 bill failed to advance last year. However, the bill was resurrected by senator Irajá Abreu (PSD-TO). Reversing President Gaspar Dutra’s 1946 ban on gambling, the bill would allow land-based casinos in tourist locations or “integrated leisure complexes” with a limit of one per state and the Federal District. The larger states of Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, Paraná and Amazonas would be allowed two casinos, and São Paulo three.

Meanwhile, bingo would be allowed in one designated establishment per municipality plus additional venues depending on population size. Licences valid for 25 years would be granted by municipalities and would require a minimum capital of R$10m. As for jogo do bicho, one operator would be allowed for every 700,000 inhabitants in each state and the Federal district.

Regarding horseracing, the bill would promote the modernisation of turf courses to be overseen by the Ministry of Agriculture.

Land-based gambling is being treated separately from sports betting. Legislation on the latter was signed off by president Lula da Silva in December, and progress is being made in establishing a regulatory framework.

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gambling regulation Land-based casinos