Emerging Latin American Gambling Market

It is a well-cited fact that the Latin American gambling market is emerging as one that can become enormously profitable. This has caused several of these countries in the region to begin to officially consider pushing their countries in this direction. However, beyond the well-lauded Mexico market, Brazil is emerging as a promising prospect and this in spite of Brazilian federal laws outlawing almost all forms of gambling for almost 80 years now. In this time, efforts to construct a federal framework or legalize in other methods have met with obviously limited success.

However, now their governmental representatives in their legislature are discussing legalizing gambling including sports book gambling and online casinos, but there is other legislation being given more attention currently.

This bill designates that a popular Brazilian lottery game, land and online casinos, as well as bingo halls and sports betting, be made legal within the entire country of Brazil. It was proposed first in 2014. As recently as last year, a modified version of this bill was discussed in a special legislative committee and even approved at this level. The expected time the final legislation would make it for a vote would have been in 2016, but this effort did not materialize.

The opposition to these proposed gambling legalization bills has been forced however with critics asserting that the gambling operations could further decimate their fragile economy, and its effects have been compared to the subversive effects that alcoholism and drugs have had on the country. However, proponents suggest that in a properly regulated industry, the positive effects of having an internationally known gambling apparatus would generate revenue from the operation itself and from investments spurned by this presence.

In Brazil, legislative priorities must be approved by a vote of the National Congress, and if this bill is passed, its inception would create the necessary regulatory framework in order for gambling to exist legally and profitably in the country. Additionally, it is important to point out that certain games considered gambling in other countries are considered games of skill in Brazil, so they exist legally. These games are poker, horse race betting, and federally operated lotteries. Under these auspices, Bingo gained legality in Brazil in the nineties, but this designation was rescinded in 2007.

Brazil has the potential to become one of the greatly regulated gaming countries in the world, and currently, Brazilians spend as much as six billion annually on gambling. If the popular lottery type Brazilian game was legalized, it alone would generate approximately four billion annually in added revenue, and the game would generate another approximate 20 billion in associated generated revenue. Additionally, because gaming is illegal throughout the country, almost a quarter-million Brazilians seek gambling opportunities in surrounding countries like Uruguay in which gambling is legal. As it stands today, Brazil would be one of the world’s largest legal gambling markets, and sports betting and in particular on soccer could also be a significant cash cow. Instead, Brazil is estimated to lose two billion annually.