Brazil senate committee approves plan to authorize casinos, online gambling

brazil-online-gambling-billA Brazilian senate committee has approved the latest legislative attempt to liberalize the country’s gambling market, including the authorization of online gambling.

On Wednesday, the Special Committee on National Development (CEDN) approved Bill 186 of 2014, which would authorize up to 35 casinos – one per state, up to three in larger states – while also authorizing video lottery and other electronic games, as well as online sports betting, casino and bingo games.

The only forms of gambling currently allowed in the country are lotteries, horseracing and live poker tournaments. If Bill 186 is approved, individual Brazilian states would have final say on what type of gambling was permissible within their borders.

Bill 186 was authored by Sen. Blairo Maggi as part of the Agenda Brazil, a package of legislative proposals intended to boost revenue for the government, which is trying to get a handle on a rapidly imploding economy. Bill 186 was approved on the same day that Moody’s Investors Service warned it was considering downgrading Brazil’s investment grade rating to junk status.

The bill now heads to the Comisión Especial de Marco Regulatorio de Juegos for analysis. Assuming the bill receives a favorable nod, it would then proceed to the full Senate for a vote before shifting to Brazil’s lower house for further consideration.

Only after a favorable nod in the lower house would President Dilma Rousseff – who vetoed recent efforts to liberalize the country’s sports betting market – be asked to sign the bill into law. Rousseff could be a little more motivated to approve a revenue-generating bill given that Congress just voted to impeach her for allegedly cooking the country’s financial books to disguise deficits and ensure her re-election last year.

Ciro Nogueira, who sponsored Bill 186, believes the new legal gambling framework could generate an annual $4b for the government while giving the economy a boost through job creation.