The mysterious health struggles of outgoing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro could threaten the timeline of the legislative agenda, including signing off on the sports-betting regulatory decree.
Bolsonaro, who will end his term as President on December 31 after losing to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (known as Lula), checked into hospital on November 17.
What ails him has been variously reported as some type of stomach pain or hernia. The most reliable reports say that he is suffering from erysipelas, a bacterial leg infection. Those close to him have insisted the President is fine.
Three days ago, on November 21, Ana Claudia Santano, the president of the NGO Electoral Transparency Brazil, asked for clarity regarding Bolsonaro's current health.
"The state of his health could be anything, the people have a right to know," she commented, according to Folha de São Paulo.
The sports-betting regulatory decree, which is issued by the President’s office, has been waiting for Bolsonaro’s sign-off for more than three years and 11 months. The deadline to regulate will pass on December 12, in 18 days time.
It was reported when he checked into the hospital that it was just for the night, but there has been no official confirmation or statement on the subject.
Meanwhile, a member of Lula’s presidential campaign, Edinho Silva, has given indications on live TV that Lula will not be opposed to signing off on gambling this time around.
Lula banned bingo and slot machines during his last tenure as President and said at the time, amidst backlash, “tomorrow, they will ask me to legalise child prostitution, don’t ask me to do illegal things”.
On November 20, Silva, the communication coordinator of Lula’s campaign and mayor of Araraquara, gave an interview on local TV channel Canal Livre in support of legalising gambling.
Silva stopped short of confirming that the President-elect would support it, but did champion the possibilities of what could be done with the tax revenue.
"I am defending it,” Silva told the assembled panel. “I am not on the transition team in the economic area, but I am defending it. This money should be stamped for education and educational infrastructure."
A panel of journalists also on air with Silva questioned how children who dropped out of school could be discussed without addressing that gambling is “outside the country without any taxation. There are sectors, I’m going to start a controversy, that are not taxed, it’s absurd. Gambling, betting sites.”
Silva, who is a member of the transition team for the sports sector, finished: “Studies say that the regulation of gaming would generate BLR$23bn in the first year. With these resources, we would have an educational compensation program for children who have been out of school since the pandemic."