A sweeping bill to legalise gambling in Brazil will be scheduled on the Senate's legislative agenda after presidential elections conclude on October 30, according to the measure's chief sponsor.
Davi Alcolumbre, the senator who was appointed as rapporteur for the bill in June, is pushing to steer gambling expansion through Congress' upper house before the end of the year, according to a report in the respected Coluna Esplanada journal on August 18.
The bill in question, PL 442/1991, has been under development for 30 years, and addresses almost all forms of gambling, including bingo halls and video-bingo, casinos, online gaming and racing. It is separate from the sports-betting legislation approved by former President Michel Temer four years ago that many in the industry hoped would be fully implemented in time for the FIFA World Cup this fall.
After being passed by the lower house in an historic vote in February, PL 442/1991 was initially shelved by the Senate’s president, Rodrigo Pacheco, but the anticipated move from Alcolumbre gives hope to those who have been waiting for years for Brazil to lift its general prohibition on almost all forms of gambling, except for lotteries.
Alcolumbre, the former Senate president, is a powerful figure who does not share incumbent President Bolsonaro’s right-wing politics.
“He knows what needs to be done. And he's not against it,” said Luiz Felipe Maia, a gaming lawyer and partner at Maia Yoshiyasu law firm in Sao Paulo.
“In my opinion, it's the best window of opportunity we're going to have in the near future,” Maia told VIXIO GamblingCompliance, referring to the lame-duck session of Congress following October's elections but before the new administration takes control.
“The pressure of the elections will be over. The political impact of this kind of approval can be dissolved in the next four years. If the President wins, he will need tax revenues to govern. And if he doesn't, he has no reason to veto and even if he does veto, the veto can be overruled.”
President Bolsonaro has long been an outspoken critic of what he considers to be moral vices, which include gambling. He has said publicly that he would veto a gambling expansion bill if one were to be approved by Congress. That stance could change, however, when Bolsonaro does not have the pressure of an election looming.
Maia said: “Right now I think it's very unlikely that you're going to see any concrete movement, or any movement in front of the curtains, but behind the curtains on the other hand, things are quite busy.”