This month has seen fiery debates as both houses of Brazil’s National Congress have continued hammering out legalisation which would legalise the country’s gaming industry, but it now looks unlikely that this will happen before 2017.
[dropcap]D[/dropcap]ecember concluded a year of highs and lows for Brazil’s twin gaming bills, as the country’s path towards the legalisation of gambling continues to play out like a game of snakes and ladders.
A Senate vote on the issue, which had been tabled for 14 December, has been delayed indefinitely after lawmakers decided to send the legislation back to committee for further review.
The Senate’s bill – PLS 186/2014 – had previously been approved by a number of Senate committees and was expected to be approved by a plenary of the Senate.
However, following an application by Senator Magno Malta requesting the House Committee on Constitution, Justice and Citizenship (CCJ) conduct a more thorough debate on the matter; Senators voted 44 to 19 in favour of returning the bill to the CCJ for further scrutiny.
The move will delay any further action on the bill until February when legislators return from recess.
Meanwhile, in Brazil’s lower house, debate intensified as a plenary session met to discuss the Chamber of Deputies’ bill, PL442/1991.
In August, the Special Commission for a Regulatory Framework for Gaming in Brazil, approved a draft bill by its rapporteur Deputy Guilherme Mussi. The decision marked the culmination of over ten months work, which saw five different versions of the proposed law before the committee approved the final draft and sent it for debate in a plenary session.
The session heard various experts speak on the issues surrounding the legalisation and saw clashes between pro and anti-gambling members.
There has been a monumental delay in making a decision on this.
Deputy Joao Carlos Bacelar Batista make a strong defence of the bill and said that it was time that the government addressed new gaming legislation as the issue has been pending for a quarter of a century.
“This is not the time to say that we will not discuss it or that we need to discuss it further,” he said. “That has passed, we need to decide now.
“There has been a monumental delay in making a decision on this.”
Bacelar argued that approval would provide a vital boost to the country’s economy which has been wrestling with a severe recession. “Gaming is necessary for Brazil, it will generate wealth. The decision cannot be based on anyone’s moral convictions. No group has the right to impose its values on the other group,” he added.
The chairman of the Chamber of Deputies’ Tourism Committee, Deputy Herculano Passos, also defended the new bill and stated that gaming was already widespread in Brazil especially in bingo halls.
While a vote on the bill was scheduled for 13 December, this vote has been postponed. The National Congress is currently in recess and while it could still technically be voted on in January, it is unlikely to happen before the legislators return in February.