QUI 15 DE NOVEMBRO DE 2018 - 18:07hs.
Current situation

Gaming legalization in Brazil: Closer than ever?

November may be a key month for Brazil to abandon the tiny group of countries that have gaming banned. The president of the Chamber of Deputies, Rodrigo Maia, is the main character of the plot. Because of its proximity to large Las Vegas groups, he insists on putting a vote on just the legalization of casino resorts. Even with this stance, a deputies agreement contemplates including online betting and bingos. What is the role of the elections in this scenario?

"If tomorrow Maia decides to vote on the amendment of Deputy Andres Sanchez, there is already an agreement, we approve it and Brazil can close 2018 with casinos, bingos and legalized online bets." This sentence is heard with increasing frequency and strength in the Chamber. In addition to being loaded with optimism, it also reveals a decision that already has a majority by consensus and that only awaits an opportunity to be discussed and sanctioned in the House.

However, it seems that behind the scenes, the main protagonists of the National Congress, with Rodrigo Maia ahead, are committed to approve the Las Vegas model, which concentrates in the hands of big corporations of the sector, the monopoly of gaming also in Brazil.

The day before yesterday, Rodrigo Maia defended the IR's during a lunch celebrating the 40 years of the Clube do Feijão Amigo (Club of the Friend Bean) in Rio de Janeiro. For him it is fundamental the approval of a law to allow the investment of billions of dollars by the big corporations of casinos in Brazil.

"We are discussing the release of gaming. However, we need to generate a move in the country so that this to occur. One thing is to approve gaming that have a direct relationship with tourism, another is to enable games that end up making this strategy of bringing more casinos and investments impossible," he said in a clear allusion that he only supports the approval of integrated resorts over other gaming modalities.

According to Maia, it is important that after the elections the Tourism Law Project, which among other things opens the air sector for foreign capital, can be approved and, within the scope of this project, is the incentive to tourism from the regulation of casinos in Brazil.

The great question of all those involved in the defense of the approval of a broader law, which contemplates all types of games, is whether to reject the thesis defended by Maia or what was discussed exhaustively in both the Chamber of Deputies and the Federal Senate, when it came to the conclusion that Brazil should approve a broad project for the activity.

At the moment, there are two projects ready to be voted on, one in the House and one in the Senate. The Chamber expected to open the entire sector, but the lack of agreement around the model - total liberation or just casinos - is suspended until consensus is reached.

The non-voting of this project was a personal victory of the President of the House. Maia defends that only the integrated resorts are deployed in Brazil. After many meetings, he was convinced to include bingos and online gaming (the latter operated by large corporations that are contemplated with the approval of their projects).

As the other activities, defended by friendly parliamentarians to a larger sector, were not included, the project was shelved to await the propitious moment to enter to vote. The biggest concern is that there is a framework agreement to include only bingos and bets online and that even these modalities would not be contemplated in a ballot convened at the convenience of Rodrigo Maia, who does not intend to open the sector for other activities that do not fit in the Las Vegas model.

Interlocutors who support the passage of a broad gaming law have told GMB that there is a risk of only passing the project that only benefits large corporations (Las Vegas Sands, Caesars, MGM, Hard Rock and Estoril Casino).

One of our sources, advocating full openness to the sector, asked whether MPs would approve such a law aimed at these mega entrepreneurs, said: "I do not think so ... but it can happen at a time when there are few MPs in the Plenary. So we must be very attentive, since this risk exists."

For this source, Maia admits the amendment of Deputy Andrés Sanchez, which includes in the tourism law the operation of bingos and online games in halls and soccer stadiums with capacity for more than 15 thousand people. "This is the agreement, but we are concerned that in a vote without the defenders of other activities being united and attentive, even online bingos and betting are excluded by a last-minute amendment."

There are two positions that analyze the most appropriate moment to take the vote to "proposal-agreement". One thinks that it would be better to vote immediately, and another between the election and the assumption of the new president. Proponents of the second option see it risky to vote first because of the dispersal of deputies seeking re-election or who are committed by their presidential candidates. "In one move, you can only pass the Las Vegas model," our analysts say.

In highlighting this position, they point out that the main executives of big corporations such as Seldon Adelson of Las Vegas Sands, Jan Jones of Caesars, MGM's Jim Murrem and Mario Assis of the Estoril Casino were in Brazil. "And after these visits, Rodrigo Maia repeatedly defended the model designed by them, even stating in Games Magazine Brazil that billions of dollars will be invested in the country if this model is adopted.”

On several occasions, LVS CEO Sheldon Adelson has waved billions of dollars worth of investments, compared with his group in Singapore where he invested US$ 6 billion and in Macao, which received US$ 14 billion. “Of course, everyone wants to be the protagonist of passing a law that attracts such investments to Brazil," said one of our interlocutors.

From the analysis of our sources, two presidential candidates are in favor of the sector. "Geraldo Alckmin and Ciro Gomes support the activity, while Marina Silva is against and would close any possibility for the regulation of the market. Jair Bolsonaro is also totally against the industry, but has already stated that he will let Congress decide the issue and that each state regulates whether or not it is convenient."

As in the Chamber, the Federal Senate also has its law already discussed and ready for voting, although the rejection of the favorable opinion in the Constitution and Justice Commission was a "moral defeat" for the activity, did not bury the project, which can go Plenary at any time.

It remains to be seen when and which project will vote and the undefined political scenario makes everything uncertain. As it is not yet known who will win the suit, the political forces are moving with care so that the interests of each group are preserved, and making any further analysis is a magic worthy of a crystal ball.

What is expected after the election, is for the sector to unite and Brazil understand once and for all that the regulated market of gaming will be beneficial for the country and not for specific groups. The country needs the billions of dollars in investment that big corporations are offering, as well as the millions of dollars that other activities, such as bingo, sports betting and online games can bring. This will generate millions of jobs and taxes that Brazil can not and should not despise.

Source: GMB