The legalization of gambling in Brazil is once again faced with a new hurdle, and this time one that originates from the highest level. President Jair Bolsonaro has spoken to VEJA, a local media outlet, and outlined his opposition to passing a law that would lead to the legalization of casinos as well as sports betting in the country.
His decision comes months after signing a law that would establish a new taxation base for sports betting once the activity becomes legal in the country.
Brazilian President Doubts the Timing of Gambling Reform
As Brazil prepares to pass a final vote and push it through its legislature by the end of the year, Bolsonaro has expressed skepticism about the bill and added that he would seek to most likely veto it. This goes against the grain of some of the president’s aides, including his chief of staff Ciro Nogueira, who have seen the legalization of gambling in the country as a way to crack down on sprawling illegal operations.
Yet, the president has warned proponents of the measure that the government would not support gambling legalization and Bolsonaro himself would use his presidential powers to veto anything that comes out of legislature successfully and pertains to the legalization of gambling.
According to the president, the timing of such a law is bad, although he acknowledges that Congress can still overturn his ban on gambling.
“Right now, we stand to lose more than win from gambling. If Congress approves the legalization of gambling, I will exercise my veto powers and block it,” the president stated for VEJA.
United Legislators Keen on Passing Gambling Laws in Brazil
However, many Members of Parliament have shown strong support for the legalization of gambling in the country and will most likely pursue a united front as they see it as a way to boost local tourism.
Calls for the legalization of gambling were vociferous during a hearing at the Chamber of Deputies last week, which was attended by the president of the Instituto do Jogo Legal (IJL) Magno José who argued that gambling was deeply rooted in Brazilian culture.
The gambling industry in Brazil is currently worth $13 billion, of which $5 billion is brought in by unregulated gambling contests. Brazil presently only permits state-run lotteries and horse race betting at authorized locations. Some $1.8 billion is also coming from sports betting, which is still illegal, according to data reported by SBC News.
The country stands to reap billions’ worth of tax money should it be successful in legalizing the industry, though. Bolsonaro didn’t clarify if his objection to gambling is temporary or he has changed his stance on the activity altogether.