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Gambling legalization in Brazil faces strong resistance from the evangelical bench


After obtaining urgent approval at the end of 2021, the bill that legalizes gambling in Brazil may be reviewed shortly in the Chamber of Deputies after parliamentary recess concludes.

The proposal is long-standing, since it was presented three decades ago by former deputy Renato Vianna (MDB-SC), and has always faced resistance from the evangelical bench. The group, formed by important allies of President Jair Bolsonaro, already tried to prevent the text from advancing last year, and now intends to demand a firmer stance from the federal government to try to stop its passage.

Furthermore, the rapporteur of the proposal, Congressman Felipe Carreras (PSB-PE), argues that it is important to control an activity which “already exists in the country”, and to consider the revenue potential if the regularization moves forward in the Legislature.

With control of the agenda in the Chamber, the president of the Chamber, Arthur Lira (PP-AL), will be the one who will call the shots. He did not make any promises to any of the parties, but went as far as to rehearse, hours before the vote on the request for urgency, a defense of the approval of the proposal.

This issue of betting legalization in Brazil is a topic that has been debated for a long time. And it has to be indeed carried out with a lot of debate. Who defends legalization will say why, who is against it will say why. We will have the opportunity to know who wants gambling to remain illegal in Brazil as it is now. Everyone knows that there is casino gaming, that there is bingo, that there are slots, online betting, that credit cards are charged and gambling is paid abroad,” Lira said at the end of 2021. “But must it continue to go on illegally without generating formal jobs in Brazil? Without contributing somewhere between 20 and 25 billion reais in taxes to the Brazilian people? This debate will be held here. We will deal with the format,” he added.

Carreras said he was confident that the proposal would be approved quickly. The issue should be submitted to the first meeting of the House party leaders, however, no date has been set for it yet. ‘At the end of last year, when we got the urgency approved, we talked about the possibility of a meeting taking place when we were approaching the time to return to work. Several leaders have committed to having a vote as soon as the recess is over.”

The rapporteur of the bill in the House has already spoken with the president of the Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco (PSD-MG), and Senator Vital do Rego (MDB-PB), who will report on the proposal in the House. Both would side with Carreras’ arguments and would defend the speed of the bill’s approval.

But the evangelical bench seeks to push for the government to increase the movement to prevent the proposal from advancing.

Allies of the president admit that the importance of religious support in an election year may deflate any type of offensive from the Planalto Palace for the approval of the proposal.

Even so, ministers have privately assured that the Government should not move to prevent gambling legalization in the country. Some of them have already confided to the parliamentarians that they are in favor of the initiative. Both groups dispose of a lot of chips for the next battle. In February, the die will be cast.

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