Brazil gov’t preparing land-based casino authorization proposal


Brazil’s casino legalization hopes got another boost this week after the country’s tourism minister said he’s crafting a proposal for authorizing integrated resorts.

On Thursday, Tourism Minister Marcelo Álvaro Antônio gave an interview to Brazilian media outlet O Tempo in which he discussed means for kickstarting the local tourism sector once the COVID-19 pandemic finishes ravaging the country.

Among the weapons in the minister’s quiver are casino-equipped integrated resorts, something that is presently not possible in South America’s most populous nation. For years now, efforts have been made to sway the government on the economic benefits of casinos, but the idea has never managed to gain anything resembling traction.

But that was before Brazil surpassed Italy to achieve the dubious honor of having the third-highest rate of COVID-19 cases in the world. As of Wednesday, Brazil had over 291k confirmed infections and 18,859 deaths, and both figures are accelerating rapidly. Two weeks ago, before the death rate ballooned, Statista estimated that Brazil’s tourism revenue could fall by nearly 39% this year.

Antônio (pictured) said Thursday that legalizing casinos was “not government policy,” at least, not yet. The ministry is preparing a proposal to submit first to President Jair Bolsonaro and eventually to Congress regarding “casinos integrated with resorts, where people who hire a tour package will access vacation at that resort.” 

Antônio emphasized that the plan wasn’t advocating “the legalization of games of chance, bingo, slots” outside resorts. The resort-specific plan would “preserve the bulk of the Brazilian population from having access to the machines.”

Other Brazilian politicians were quick to weigh in on the minister’s comments. Solidarity party leader Paulinho da Força, a vocal supporter of gambling expansion, said access to legal gambling shouldn’t be limited to international tourists. Da Força wants to see “bingos in the cities … bingos create many jobs.”