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Brazil commission votes to legalise casinos and bingo

| By Marese O'Hagan
Brazil's Justice and Citizenship Commission (CCJ) has approved a bill that legalises casinos, bingo, jogo de bicho and betting on horseracing in Brazil.
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PL 2,234/2022 was approved yesterday (19 June) by 14 votes to 12. The bill – which has been under consideration since 2022 – now moves to the senate plenary for a further vote, having already been approved by Brazil’s chamber of deputies.

During yesterday’s CCJ meeting, Senator Irajá said that regulating betting and gaming was a “great opportunity” for Brazil, one that would benefit the Brazilian people.

“We can no longer lose this great opportunity that other competing countries have already understood and is seen to generate jobs, income and taxes, which will obviously be reversed into benefits for the Brazilian people in the most essential areas, such as health, education, social and infrastructure,” he said.

The bill outlines rules for casino, betting machines, bingo, animal racing – including horseracing – and tax. Looking at tax first, the bill proposes that two new types of tax will be created – the Gaming and Betting Inspection Fee (Tafija) and the Economic Intervention Contribution levied on the marketing of games and betting (Cide-Jogos).

If passed, the bill stipulated that Tafija would be paid every three months. The total Tafija would add up to R$600,000 for casinos, R$300,000 for online gaming locations and R$20,000 for bingo halls, Jogo de Bicho operators and tourism companies.

The Cide-Jogos tax rate will stand at 17% of gross revenue. Prizes over R$10,000 will be subject to 20% income tax.

What are the rules for casinos?

If ultimately passed into law, the bill would see casinos permitted in tourist centres or integrated leisure complexes. These are categorised as resorts and hotels with bars, meeting spaces and a minimum of 100 rooms.

Casinos would only be operated in venues that were created to be integrated resorts. This rule came about through an amendment by Senator Ângelo Coronel.

Casinos would also be permitted on boats and ships with a minimum of 50 rooms, contingent to certain parameters on river length.

There would also be a limit of one casino in each state and the Federal District, with some exceptions. São Paulo could have up to three casinos, while Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, Amazonas and Pará could have up to two each.

In order to operate, each casino would need to provide proof of a minimum paid-up share capital of R$100m (£14.5m/€17.1m/US$18.4m).

What about bingo and racing?

Bingo would be permitted in card, electronic and video formats.

A bingo house would be allowed in each municipality – however, bigger cities could have one for every 150,000 inhabitants. Once vetted and licensed, bingo houses would be permitted to operate for 25 years at a time, subject to renewal. Bingo houses would also need to provide proof of a minimum paid-up share capital of R$10m as part of the licensing process.

The bill states that one legal racing entity is permitted per 700,000 inhabitants. This is with the exception of Roraima, which is the only state under the threshold according to the 2022 Census. Roraima is therefore permitted to have a jogo do bicho operator instead.

Bets on horseracing specifically would be operated by Brazilian tourism entities. The entities would need to be accredited by the ministry of agriculture. These entities would also be permitted to operate bingo and video bingo games, as long as this is offered in the same grounds as the races.

Further protection for bettors

PL 2,234/2022 introduces a self-exclusion programme for land-based bettors, entitled the National Registry of Prohibited Persons (Renapro). Venues must check whether anyone trying to enter the casino is registered with Renapro.

The bill also proposes the National Policy for the Protection of Players and Bettors. This outlines rules for conducting and partaking in gambling honestly and discourages compulsive behaviour.

In addition, if written into Brazilian law, PL 2,234/2022 would result in the creation of new crimes against gambling. Partaking in, or advertising, unlicensed games could result in up to four years in prison. This penalty would be doubled if the offence involves minors.

Tampering with games or results could see an offender face up to seven years in prison. If the victim is elderly, a minor, or is registered with Renapro, this penalty would be doubled.

Careering forward to a regulated industry

Since Brazil’s president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, approved Bill 3,626/2023 in December, legalising sports betting and igaming, Brazil has been on the fast track to creating a regulated gaming industry.

Brazil’s ministry of finance has outlined the stages of implementing sports betting and igaming. If this is to be believed, sports betting and igaming will be legal in Brazil by the end of July.

Currently, we are in stage three. This stage sees the Regulatory Policy of the Prizes and Betting Secretariat (SPA), the country’s gaming regulator, publish the technical and security requirements for igaming operators.

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