ext week could be crucial for supporters of gambling legalization in Brazil since only the final meetings and deliberative sessions remain at the Senate and the House of Representatives, and yet the proposed legislation is unlikely to obtained approval in the near future.
Legislative sessions conclude on Dec 22 in Brazil, and both this week and the following one, the Congress has to address central issues for the country such as the annual budget for 2018 and the pension reform. Still, under these circumstances, the gambling bill still has—little, but real—chances of moving forward both in the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies and finally becoming law in February 2018.
Voting on the PLS 186/2014 by the Constitution & Justice Committee (CCJ) should have taken place today, but it ended up being postponed yet again, to next Dec 20.
Should this project be approved before the PL 442/91—the Chamber of Deputies' proposed gaming law—, it will have supremacy over the latter.
The PLS 186/2014 sets forth the regulation of jogos do bicho (animal game lottery), video bingo machines and bingo halls, as well as land-based and online casino games, and sports betting.
On the other hand, there is the Chamber of Deputies' project. In the last couple of days, a series of rumors indicated that the president of the “Parliamentary Front for the Approval of a Regulatory Framework for Gambling in Brazil”, legislator César Halum had confirmed that the whole Chamber would vote for an urgent request for the PL 442/91 to be discussed this week, but that finally did not occur.
The president of the Chamber of Deputies upholds his position of legalizing casinos exclusively, but there is an alternative proposal to incorporate bingos (video bingo machines) and online games into the proposed legislation. If casinos are finally allowed, the president of the Chamber of Deputies can appoint a "relator"—legislator in charge of moving a bill forward— to present substitute amendments to the PL 442/91 to incorporate this proposal.
However, the reactions of several legislators that stand for a comprehensive gaming regulation have been strong and could undermine the president's initiative. This would maintain the wording of legislator Guilherme Mussi's substitute text approved by the Special Committee for Gaming Regulation in Brazil in September of last year.
When analyzing deadlines, there is a common fear among gambling legalization supporters, both in the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies: it is highly likely that none of the two projects will be approved this year, and it would be quite difficult for them to move forward in 2018, since it is an electoral year so legislators reduce voting to devote themselves to electoral campaigns. Moreover, their decisions come at a "high political cost", so they prefer to leave them for less complicated times.
In spite of that, there are those who claim that the advanced stages of both projects, together with an intense debate in the media and the society as a whole, as well as the need to legalize this activity to raise greater revenue for the government, are all indicators that the issue is likely to move forward.
According to one expert in particular, journalist Maghno José (president of Brazil Legal Gaming Institute), one of the main difficulties in this process has been the anxiety of the industry's executives. "At present, there is no doubt that gambling will be legalized, the question is when. Unfortunately, the answer depends on factors that are beyond the sector's control," he said in his blog.
For now, we can only wait to see what happens this week, if whether in the Senate or the Chamber of Deputies the projects manage to overcome their main flaws and be voted on by the legislators next February before debates on this controversial issue to the Brazilian society get corrupted by the forthcoming elections.