Brazilian lawmaker files bill to legalise land-based casinos

13 February 2019

Paulo Azi, a member of the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies, has filed a bill that would establish the country’s first land-based casinos should it pass into law.

Azi’s PL530/2019 would allow each Brazilian state to open integrated resorts, of which casino gaming would account for 10% of the floor space, alongside other amenities such as convention centres, spas, restaurants, shopping malls and theme parks.

The number of resorts that can be established in each state depends on the existing population. States with 15 million or fewer residents would be permitted one resort, with a maximum of two allowed in states with a population between 15 million and 25 million.

This increases to three integrated resorts for states with populations greater than 25 million. This would in theory allow up to 32 such facilities to be opened in the country, with 30-year licences to be awarded through a tender process. The casinos would only be permitted to offer slot and table games. 

Licensees would be taxed at a rate of 10% of gross revenue, with money raised to be split equally between Brazil’s General Fund for Tourism and the National Public Security Fund.

Explaining his reasoning behind the proposal, Azi said that gambling is already prevalent in the country, though is mostly conducted illegally, with a small percentage regulated via the state lottery, operated by banking group Caixa Econômica Federal. He said the combined legal and illegal market was worth some R$50bn per year.

“The focus of my proposition is not to foster the existence of [the gambling market],” Azi explained. “It is instead because we are dealing with a sector that already exists, is in full operation, and whose expansion is practically impossible to stop.

“At present there is no control, regulation or taxation of this industry in Brazil.”

By regulating gambling, he said, government budgets would be boosted by additional tax revenue. He also Nevada and Macao as examples of how legal gambling could create new jobs and bring more money into cities.

Should Azi’s PL530/2019 pass into law, it would become the second major gambling expansion project approved in Brazil in recent months. In December 2018 PL846/2018 was signed into law by outgoing President Michel Temer, providing a two-year window for the country’s Congress to develop regulations for sports betting.