Brazil Senate President Says Gaming Expansion Will Be Addressed This Summer

April 24, 2023
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Brazil Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco confirmed on Friday that the legalisation of sports betting and other forms of gambling are part of the government's revenue calculations for its imminent fiscal plan.

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Brazil Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco confirmed on Friday (April 21) that the legalisation of sports betting and other forms of gambling are part of the government's revenue calculations for its imminent fiscal plan.

Pacheco, alongside Senator Davi Alcolumbre and former finance ministers Joaquim Levy and Henrique Meirelles, among others, gathered at the Savoy Hotel in London for the Brazilian Business Leaders Group (LIDE) conference.

Pacheco told the assembled audience that various pieces of pending legislation, including on expanded gambling, will account for significant government revenue this year.

“We have a lot of projects that range from legalising gaming to handling commodities … so we have a lot of projects to discuss … and we believe that we will have more than 100 billion reals this year. And on top of these projects if we could carry out an administrative reform that could cut public spending, that would be extraordinary.”

On Thursday, Pacheco acknowledged an anticipated timeline for the Senate to vote on a sweeping expanded gambling bill (442/1991) for the first time, saying he expects it to be brought up in May or June.

"We want to speed up the voting if all these projects that generate revenue and one of these projects is the one that legalises gambling, which has already passed the House," Pacheco told BBC Brasil.

Bill 442/1991 was passed by the lower house of Congress, the Chamber of Deputies, in February 2022 but has been kept on ice ever since in the Senate.

Among other things, the sweeping measure would legalise at least one to three casino-resorts in each of Brazil's 26 federal states, as well as potentially hundreds of bingo halls offering video-bingo games. Online gaming would also be legalised.

Meanwhile, Brazil's Congress is preparing to imminently receive a separate presidential decree to implement a licensing regime for online sports betting, in itself a notable expansion for a legal gambling market today limited to traditional lottery games and horseracing.

Generating revenue and addressing Brazil's budget deficits and debts were the hot topic of the day at LIDE, explaining Pacheco’s urgency towards addressing pending projects that would generate potential revenue.

“We’re committed to what we’ve mentioned here about the guaranteed framework, the fiscal framework, that’s being analysed by the executive, our absolute commitment to efficient collection without creating new taxes,” said Pacheco.

Sports betting is expected to be taxed at 15 percent of gross gaming revenue for operators, plus around 11–14 percent more for social security and municipal taxes. In addition, player winnings over a certain threshold will be taxed at 30 percent. The pending gambling expansion bill would establish a 17 percent tax on casino, bingo and online gaming revenue.

“Brazil really needs to advance very urgently and very fast so that we can grow,” Pachecho concluded.

That urgency may not get Pacheco’s agenda very far, as the conservative evangelical bloc in Congress is already threatening to try to oppose any sports-betting provisional measure.

Simone Tebet, Brazil’s minister of planning and budget, was also scheduled to make an appearance at the LIDE conference but did not attend, as current minister of finance Fernando Haddad asked her to stay behind to work on the impending fiscal framework, indicating a slight delay in schedule.

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