Casino Legalization in Brazil Depends on Evangelical Party

  • Bolsonaro is leaving casino legalization issue up to evangelical section of legislature
  • Evangelical Christians hold significant political sway, occupying 200 of 513 Congress seats
  • Some group representatives in favor of legalization, one leader says no deal will ever be done
  • Numerous global casino companies are waiting on sidelines in case approval is given
flag of Brazil
The chances of casinos becoming legal in Brazil lie in the hands of the evangelical representatives within the country’s legislature. [Image:]

All hopes riding on one group of legislators

The efforts to legalize casinos in Brazil are now at the mercy of the evangelical Christian legislators. 

President Jair Bolsonaro recently met with the federal Chamber of Deputies ‘Central’ bloc, where the idea of legalizing casino gambling was pressed forward. 

the evangelical portion of the chamber now has the power to decide

In the meeting with the deputies, the president was open to the idea of legalizing casino gambling. However, it looks like the evangelical portion of the chamber now has the power to decide whether or not this proposal will advance any further.

The evangelical Christians played a major role in Bolsonaro’s election win in 2018 and account for 200 out of 513 available seats in the country’s Congress.

Bolsonaro has in the past opposed the expansion of the gambling sector on a personal level. However, he believes it is an issue on which each individual state in the country should decide for themselves.

Is there any chance of casino gambling?

Rio de Janeiro mayor and evangelical bishop Marcelo Crivella has expressed he is in favor of his city getting a casino. His caveat is that only tourists would be able to gamble at the establishment. Rio de Janeiro is among the top desired locations for many global casino companies. 

The Secretary of Tourism in Sao Paulo, another top choice among international casino firms, is also in favor of having a casino in the state. It is said this would help with economic development in an area where there is a high rate of unemployment. 

Traditionally, the evangelical Christian group has not been very supportive of gambling expansion. Despite support in some quarters, one of the evangelical leaders, Marco Feliciano, is vehemently against casino gambling becoming legal in Brazil.

In October, he declared the evangelical group as being “totally” against allowing casinos. He added that there was no way their minds were going to be changed on the issue. The issue is still up in the air to date. 

The path to casino gambling legalization

Brazil did legalize sports betting in 2018, but the regulations for both online and retail sports are still being created. There have been numerous attempts to push through similar legislation for casino gambling over the past year, to no avail. 

casino companies are still putting themselves in position

Despite this lack of progress, casino companies are still putting themselves in position in case casino gambling legalization does happen. 

Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire founder and CEO of Las Vegas Sands, has long been hoping to have a casino presence in Brazil. He has met with country officials on numerous occasions to discuss potential legalization, and what it would mean for the locality and the country as a whole. 

Adelson is on record claiming that the casino company could spend as much as $15bn between gambling establishments in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Other global casino companies that also have expressed interest in the development of a casino in Brazil include Hard Rock International, MGM Resorts, and Caesars. 

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