ermelho (PSD-PR) applauded the statements by the economy minister Paulo Guedes, who defended the legalization of casinos within the Brazilian territory. The opinion expressed by Guedes is in line with tourism minister Marcelo Álvares Antonio’s stance, who brought up the subject.
At a meeting of ministers, Guedes said the gambling industry should be legalized as it would help promote tourism across the country. He also commented that a series of measures could be implemented to prevent low-income individuals from losing money to gambling.
The minister cited the case of Singapore, which significantly increased the number of visitors it has welcomed since the opening of its casino industry. "Problem gambling does not exist in Integrated Resorts (IR). Those who gamble there are billionaires. The tourism sector in Singapour went from five million to 30 million visitors per year, and Brazil currently receives six," he said. "The same occurs in Spain, a country that receives about 30, 40 million tourists. Macau currently welcomes 26 million visitors, who arrive exclusively to gamble."
Nelsi “Vermelho” Coguetto Maria, a member of the Chamber of Deputies —the lower house of the National Congress—, presides over the Sub-Committee for Legalized Gambling, part of the Congress' Tourism Committee.
"More than 70 years after a presidential decree banned casinos in Brazil, I have never seen a more favorable time for them to return to our nation," the deputy said. Casinos were prohibited countrywide in 1946.
Vermelho, who is from Foz do Iguaçu, wants this city to be one of the jurisdictions that receive casinos once again. In an interview with Radio Cultura, the lawmaker representing the state of Paraná said the casino industry could be worth about BRL 25 billion (USD 4.6 B).
"The Mixed Parliamentary Front for the approval of the country’s Gambling Regulatory Framework seeks for the implementation of a Las Vegas and Singapore model, where casinos are part of large entertainment complexes which feature luxury hotels, bars, restaurants, stores, shows, nightclubs, and themed parks," the lawmaker continued. "We are going to attract foreign visitors and allow locals, who travel abroad to gamble to stay in their country, and spend money here, which would generate jobs and promote development at home."
Before the coronavirus crisis struck, around 200,000 Brazilian citizens left the country every month to gamble at foreign casinos. Only Las Vegas receives about 150,000 Brazilians a year. "Brazil is currently exporting gamblers, consumers, dividends and currency overseas, which could otherwise remain in the territory if casinos were legal."
Legislators and key stakeholders from the tourism industry ended up convincing government officials. Vermelho engaged in talks with the tourism minister and Gilson Machado Neto, the president of the Brazilian Tourist Board (Embratur), who strongly stand up for these proposals.
"The government is clearly backing up the implementation of a casino industry," Vermelho added. "Marcelo [Álvares Antonio] said the creation of jobs would be substantial and Gilson [Machado Neto] said he has research that proves the number of foreign visitors could triple."