Brazilian deputies vote to legalise gambling

| By Marese O'Hagan
Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies has voted to legalise online and land-based gambling in the country in a landmark decision.

The vote was to take place on 22 February, but was pushed back until yesterday (23 February).

Deputies voted 246-202 in favour of Bill 442/1991, bringing various forms of gambling to Brazil for the first time since a wide-reaching ban came into effect in 1946.

Bill 442/1991 was first introduced more than 30 years ago, initially as a jogo de bicho bill, and has been subject to various amendments throughout the years, adding more channels and types of gaming.

The bill would bring casino, online gaming, horse racing, slot machines, bingo and jogo de bicho operations to Brazil.

Casinos can now be established in each of Brazil’s 26 states, in the form of integrated resorts. Under the bill, the state of São Paulo could have up to three casinos, while Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais and Bahia could have up to two casinos each. All other states could have one integrated resort each.

Casino licences will be available through a tender process, where the highest bid will obtain the licence.

No operator will receive two licences in the same state, or over five in total.

Casino operators must pay a licence fee of BRL$600,000 (£89,100/€106,800/$119,700) per licensed establishment. Online gaming operators will be subject to a BRL$600,000 fee for each licensed domain. Bingo operators must pay BRL$20,000 per establishment while jogo de bicho operators must pay BRL$20,000 quarterly per licensed entity.

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.

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.

Gambling on credit will be prohibited and tax on winnings will stand at 15%.

The bill will also allow for the creation of SINAJ, a a gambling supervisory authority in Brazil. It will consist of a federal registry, a supervisory body and betting agents.

A service that would identify and block problem gamblers, titled National Register of the Prohibited (RENAPRO), will also be established.

The bill will now go to the Senate, which will vote on it today (24 February).

If approved, it must then be ratified by president Jair Bolsonaro before it is passed into law. Bolsonaro has the power to veto the bill, and has indicated that he would do so, but the Senate may override a veto. The Senate is expected to have the votes required to override a veto if needed.

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