At midnight and after 30 years, the text of the bill 442/91 that liberates casinos, bingos and animal game in the country was approved by the Chamber of Deputies by 246 to 202 votes, defeating evangelical and Catholic groups attempts to obstruct, and under criticism from parliamentarians about the urgency of voting on the proposal at this time.
To allow voting on the text, the project’s rapporteur, deputy Felipe Carreras (PSB-PE), made a series of concessions to try to reduce resistance. However, he could not get the support of the opposition and religious groups, which began to bet on a veto of the proposal by President Jair Bolsonaro (PL). “We are about to vote or not, to approve or not a project that generates controversy. The controversies we resolve in plenary. When I was elected on this position, I always made it clear that this House would have autonomy for the plenary to decide on the most diverse topics, without prejudice,” said the president of the Chamber, Arthur Lira (PP-AL).
As for the Government, it gave freedom to its deputies, but recalled that Bolsonaro can veto the text. “The Government has parties with different understandings, and the President of the Republic will maintain his veto prerogative if the project is processed and arrives for consideration,” stated the deputy leader of the government, Evair de Melo (PP-ES).
PROJECT HISTORY AND MODIFICATIONS BY CARRERAS
Gambling has been banned in Brazil since 1946 by decree of then-president Eurico Gaspar Dutra, who absurdly considered it “a practice contrary to the moral, legal and religious tradition of the Brazilian people.” The project voted on was presented by Deputy Renato Vianna (MDB-SC) in 1991 and was processed with some regularity until 1995, when it stalled. The theme was quickly resumed in 2008, but also without progress. In 2015, a Special Commission was created to debate the text. The collegiate produced a report, used by Carreras as a basis for making his opinion. The deputy filed a first report late on Tuesday, February 22nd night, which led opposing parliamentarians to ask for at least 24 hours to be able to analyze the text. Throughout Wednesday, the rapporteur visited party benches to try to negotiate adjustments that would eliminate part of the resistance to the project. The new opinion, however, was only entered into the system after 9 pm, when voting had already begun.
Carreras’ opinion seeks to regulate casino games, bingo, animal games, turf (horse racing) and online gaming. Besides, Carreras included casino resorts (hotels that could explore the activity) in its report, and increased the number of casino licenses in some states, such as Pará and Amazonas, due to their territorial extension. Another change was the possibility of casinos on river vessels for a period of 30 days so that they would not be configured as anchored casinos.
TAX ASPECTS AND POSSIBILITIES FOR CASINOS AND BINGOS
The deputy also spoke about the redistribution of the so-called Cide-Jogos, a contribution of 17% levied on the gross revenue resulting from the exploitation of the activity. The contribution will be shared between Embratur, funding for sports activities, protection of players and gamblers, animal protection, public safety, health and culture. To accommodate demands from congressmen, the rapporteur reduced to 16% the percentage allocated to federated entities (20% for state participation funds and 20% for municipal funds) to cover resources for actions to prevent natural disasters and FIES (student loan fund). According to the text, after the deduction of paid prizes, the operators must transfer 0.68% of the gross revenue directly to the financing of the training of athletes. Of this percentage, 0.48% will be allocated to the Brazilian Committee of Clubs (CBC) and 0.2% to the Brazilian Committee of Paralympic Clubs (CBCP). The rapporteur maintained the levy of Income Tax of 20% on the net prizes equal to or greater than USD 2,000. Another request that Carreras accepted was the creation of a regulatory agency that will be part of the National Gaming and Betting System, also formed by the Ministry of Economy, gaming and betting operators and others.
For casinos, Carreras has set limits on licenses. One will be granted to units of the federation with up to 15 million inhabitants. States that have between 15 million and 25 million inhabitants will be able to have two, and those with more than 25 million inhabitants will be able to receive three licenses. The licenses will be through a technical bidding process and proposed price and the highest bid to obtain the license, with paid-in capital of USD 20 million. More than one establishment per state is prohibited for the same economic group and more than five for the same economic group in the national territory. The Executive may grant the exploitation of games in casinos in integrated resorts for up to two establishments, at most, in States with a dimension greater than one million square kilometers. However, the rapporteur prohibited the construction of casinos within 20 km of environmental protection areas, beaches and regions occupied by traditional populations.
Regarding bingo halls, there will be a limitation of 1 bingo for every 150,000 inhabitants and a maximum of up to 400 video bingo machines per establishment. Finally, about the animal game, the project indicates a limitation of quantity per state, with the release of 1 “bicheiro” for every 700,000 inhabitants in each state. Now, it will be the Brazilian Senate’s turn to continue and advance until the project is fully approved.