Brazilian Deputies to vote on wide-reaching gambling legalisation bill today

| By Daniel O'Boyle
Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies is set to vote today (23 February) on a long-awaited bill that would legalise various forms of gambling, both online and land-based.

The vote was initially scheduled for 22 February, but has been pushed back.

The bill – Bill 442/1991 – has been in the works for decades, having first been introduced more than 30 years ago and amended a number of times over the years to legalise a wider range of verticals such as online gaming.

It would allow for the establishment of casinos as part of integrated resorts in each of Brazil’s 26 states. São Paulo could have up to three casinos, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais and Bahia could have up to two casinos each and other Brazilian states could have one casino each. 

As well as table games, electronic gaming machines will be permitted at these resorts, which must return at least 80% of stakes as winnings.

No operator may be granted two licences in the same state, or more than five overall.

Licensed entities must be incorporated under Brazilian law, with headquarters and management in the country; technically capable of conducting the activity; and financially and economically credible.

Online games of chance – though not betting which is being regulated separately – would be permitted, with both the federal government and states permitted to offer licences.

Bingo, meanwhile, will only be permitted in bingo halls, jockey clubs or football stadiums, with charitable games the only other form permitted. The popular – though illegal – game, jogo de bicho, would also be permitted, but closely monitored.

While licensed online gambling would be permitted, unlicensed foreign websites would be blocked, and servers for locally licensed igaming operators must be located in Brazil.

The use of credit to gamble online will not be permitted and gambling winnings will be taxed at 15%.

The legislation also mandates that lottery proceeds will be used to fund social security programmes.

The bill will be considered in an extraordinary deliberative hearing today. If the bill is approved by the Chamber of Deputies, then ratified by president Jair Bolsonaro, it would pass into law.

As well as this bill to permit a large number of forms of gambling, efforts have been made to legalise sports betting.

These have been extremely drawn out, and ongoing since 2018. A change in proposed regulation to a concession model instead of licensing was one of the reasons for a delay in the process.

Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro formally added sports betting to the country’s agenda in August 2020, signing a decree to add sports wagering to Brazil’s Investment Partnership Programme (PPI) portfolio and national privatisation programme and appointing managers to lead the licensing process.

Last year, the Brazilian federal government approved changes which will see the country implement a tax system based on gross gaming revenue (GGR), rather than turnover.

Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter