GMB - The House of Representatives’ Tourism Commission sent a document to the president of the Chamber, asking to make one of its priorities the gambling legalization and not just the approval of casinos, as it used to defend. What led to this change of attitude and what is the expectation for the progress of the gaming projects?
Newton Cardoso Jr. - The Tourism Commission, which I currently chair, together with some members, met with Chamber President Rodrigo Maia to discuss some priority issues of the Brazilian sector and tourism that we consider fundamental to unlock investments and the growth of our economy, including legalization of the gaming sector. Maia said that if there is an agreement between the leaders of the House and those who participated in discussions on the subject, he will take the text resulting from that agreement for the appreciation of the House. This is very positive as it gives us a very clear and fast working scenario.
About your meeting last week with President Jair Bolsonaro, did you realize that he really supports gaming legalization? What does this support represent for the approval of the projects on the subject in Congress?
The president said he supports the legalization of the activity, but in his opinion each state should decide whether or not to legalize games and make the rules and modes of enforcement. The president's support is certainly very important and fundamental to the progress of the projects and their approval in Congress.
Do you believe that the Bill 442/91 in the House is the best project for the regulation of gambling and casinos? If not, would you support the creation of a new bill in the House or another coming from the Senate?
Bill 442/91 is no better or worse than other projects. What it deals with is a broader scope, compared to the texts that are already being processed in the House, because this bill authorizes the ‘jogo do bicho’, sports betting, online gaming, betting machines, casinos and bingo, among others. It releases almost all gambling activities. There are other projects in the House that authorize and legalize the casinos. I understand that, at the current situation, there needs to be a middle course that, by agreement with the leaders and segments of society, could be taken to Plenary with great chances of approval. Now, it is not for me to say whether a text goes to plenary only in favor of resort-integrated casinos or just small casinos or just bingo, or all sorts of activities. I stand for all the guidelines that I have always attached to and I will continue with that consistency.
What do you think about the visits to countries that have casinos that have already been held or are still scheduled by the commission? What has been seen and can be used in Brazil?
Brazil has a very peculiar position compared to the rest of the world. Most countries that have casino or legalized gambling activity already come from a history of many years and, therefore, have not, as Brazil has, gone through a process of prohibition. We have to bring the examples of countries that have approved gambling in more recent times, but those countries that have always allowed these activities have much to add to our discussion and the Brazilian reality, as they already have experience regarding the regulation of this sector, such as the way to pay taxes, or any grants or amounts that the Government could collect from the licenses granted. So, we have to adapt these models to the Brazilian reality, starting from a new and fertile field for the development of this sector.
We have been talking to state tourism secretaries and they have been interested in the return of casinos. How important is this interest? Do you believe that states can collaborate in any way in approving the legalization of the activity?
I believe the best way for states to collaborate is by not generating a war over who will take a casino. If there is a harmony, with a transparent discussion, seeking to benefit the country as a whole is the way that, in fact, they will collaborate more. If a discussion begins about which state will win over the other, painful tax incentive structures would be created for the state and the municipality receiving that investment, a predatory and uninteresting dispute would begin. Interestingly, the forums of state secretaries and also the Ministry of Tourism's vision with the Tourism Commission could be unique and we would all move towards legalizing the activity, benefiting the country and not specifically one state or the other. Therefore, the rules need to be very clear and transparent for this to become a reality.
At the end of last year the legalization of sports betting was approved and even without a regulation the activity has already brought a great movement in the market, especially with sponsorship to the sport. Do you believe that the success of this modality will help to open the minds of parliamentarians about other gaming modalities?
The approval of the legalization of sports betting already shows an appetite of society, and even of the National Congress, for approval of gaming in general. It is the signal that Brazilian society gives that there is no such negative taboo related to an activity of entertainment and leisure that generates jobs, that will bring income and does not suffer from this pejorative effect of the quality of the game in relation to fraud and illegal activities. Therefore, it is a demonstration that with the technology that exists today in Brazil we can already bring this activity and legalize it as a new opportunity development of our market and economy. So let's work and keep fighting to get the gaming approved.
Raising public awareness is seen as a major asset for the legalization of the activity. Do you believe that the tourism sector can help bring the population closer to the industry?
The industry needs to do advertisement showing to society that it is not a sector that will promote the outflow of illegal resources or activities. It has to show that it will contribute to the generation of jobs, investments in the country and the revenue that will finance education, health and safety in Brazil.
Finally, can you tell us about the next steps of the Tourism Commission regarding gambling and casino implementation?
The next steps for the Commission will be to promote discussion of these agendas with leaders in Congress and to fight for this text to go to the Plenary as soon as possible.
Source: Exclusive Games Magazine Brasil