Brazil Gambling Legislation StallsAugust 17, 2015 5:00 pm
Last year, Senator Ciro Nogueira introduced Bill 671-2015 to the Brazilian legislature in an attempt to overhaul a gambling industry restricted solely to horseracing and lottery products. Amongst the changes Nogueira proposed was to allow sports betting products to be added to these verticals, and as he commented at the time, “a prohibitive approach to gambling does not work, as the truth is that no one will ever give up playing only because it is forbidden.”
In the event of legislation, Brazil could then stand to benefit from additional revenues at a time when its economy is in recession, and producing lower economic growth than Greece. Highlighting its potential is the fact Brazil is South America’s biggest gambling market, and each year the nation’s 8 million online gamblers wager an estimated $8 billion at unregulated, offshore websites.
Understandably, politicians chose to pass the gambling law recently, but the good news didn’t last long as President Dilma Rousseff subsequently stalled progress by vetoing the bill. If that wasn’t bad enough, she has now added further confusion to the situation by banning all gambling in public places, either online or otherwise. As a result, anyone convicted of the crime can now expect to be hit with a fine of between $575 and $575,000, and could receive a three months stretch behind bars.
Amongst the group of players to be affected by the new law are Brazilian poker players, who have now been grouped together with the country’s other gamblers, despite the Brazilian Ministry of Sport recognizing poker as a sport in 2012. As the organization noted at the time:
“Poker is a competitive discipline, which requires the participant to have intelligence, ability, and intellectual and behavioral skills in order to succeed.”
Being unable to gamble in public is unlikely to directly impact poker players who, in any case, prefer to gamble from their own homes. Their surprising reversal in status, however, will no doubt worry players, and furthermore doesn’t bode well for the progress of gambling legislation in the huge country of 200 million people.