Brazil is suffering because of the coronavirus pandemic just like everyone else. This has led to increased efforts to legalize casinos in the country as a means to recover much-needed revenue, although gambling proponents find obstacles at every turn. A recent move by the country’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, to make lotteries an “essential business” during the COVID-19 lockdown was battled in court, with a federal judge ultimately cutting down the initiative at its roots. This is just one of the many examples of the challenges facing gambling legislation. However, a new effort has now sprung up that might help ease the pressure and clear out a path toward eventual legal casino operations in the country, even if it means having to take the long road.
Bolsonaro, along with Economy Minister Paulo Guedes, approved a measure last week that sees the establishment of a nationwide Investment Partnerships Program (PPI, for its Portuguese acronym). The program is designed to boost the tourism sector through private investments, but could conceivably work to see casinos make their way toward government approval. For that to happen, though, some fancy footwork will be needed.
The PPI is going to be managed by a government committee that is comprised of a number of tourism officials. These same individuals are reportedly very supportive of legalized gaming in the country, and will use their influence to try to shape policy. Games Magazine Brazil adds that these individuals will “strongly propose” legalizing casinos as a way to “attract multimillion-dollar investments and generate thousands of jobs” in the country.
The idea is, through the PPI, to create new alliances that will lead to the development of investment companies in Brazil with a focus on expanding cultural and civic assets tied to tourism. Those on the committee are expected to meet every other week in order to proactively develop the plan and help it achieve widespread success, and one of the primary initiatives on the PPI’s agenda is the legalization and regulation of casinos on a national level.
Among those to be included in the new group will be appointees from several areas of the federal government, including the Special Secretariat of the Investment Association Program of the Ministry of Economy, the Civil House of the Presidency of the Republic and the Secretariat of Evaluation of Public Policies, Planning, Energy and Lotteries of the Ministry of Economy.
Federal Deputy Pompeo de Mattos is fully behind any move that will help Brazil’s economy recover, and casinos are at the top of the list. He explains, “Casinos would generate taxes, income for the government, and it would help us recover the economy. It would create jobs. It’s a perfectly possible, viable, and necessary alternative to rebuild the economy after the coronavirus crisis. In certain circumstances the casino would be ideal, for example for more touristy places, others may be more suited to bingo which is a different situation, or machines that are something else and the jogo do bicho (an illegal gambling game prohibited in the country since 1946), which is everywhere.” Joining the other political groups in the PPI will be the Tourism Structuring Committee of the Ministry of Tourism, the National Secretariat of Inter-institutional Integration of the Ministry of Tourism, the Ecotourism Secretariat of the Ministry of the Environment and the Government Secretariat of the Presidency of the Republic. With the help of Bolsonaro, Guedes, de Mattos and the PPI, Brazil’s gambling market might actually be able to move from black-market and corrupt games to a legitimate industry that fuels the economy.