Brazil Hotel Operators Want the Right to Apply for Casino Licenses
Brazilian hotel executives want to be included in licensing applications for land-based casinos and it appears Brazil’s government approves of the idea. Previously, lawmaker Paulo Azi submitted a bill to develop 32 new casinos throughout the country.
For such a plan to come to fruition, 81 Brazilian senators and President Jair Bolsonaro need to approve the measure. It is unclear if the draft legislation will gain support, because Bolsonaro has voiced skepticism about the gambling legislation.
Still, Brazilian hotels want in on the action, if Bolsonaro gives his approval. Recently, a lobbying group which favors Azi’s legislation — the Joint Parliamentary Front in Defence of Tourism — held a meeting. Several hotel industry associations attended the meeting.
The list of attendees included the Brazilian Association of Resorts (ABR), the Forum of Hotel Operators of Brazil, the Brazilian Federation of Lodging and Food, and the Brazilian Association of Hotels. All four industry groups made clear they wanted inclusion in the licensing process.
Global Casino Developers
Naturally, Brazil’s government will want to include international casino companies in the licensing process. Gaming groups like Las Vegas Sands Corp, MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainment, Genting Group, and Melco Resorts would be willing to pay huge licensing fees to have access to the Brazilian domestic casino market.
Once approved, the gaming giants would be willing to spend billions of dollars to build modern integrated casino-resorts in Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro. Sheldon Adelson, the CEO of Las Vegas Sands, said during a 2017 trip to the country he would spend $8 billion to build a casino in Rio.
Domestic Brazilian Hotel Owners
With 32 potential casinos, though, there would be more than enough casino licenses to hand out to Brazilian hotel owners. Certainly, there are 32 casino groups in the world, but few can match the resources of Las Vegas Sands. If Brazil gave licenses to the top 5 to 10 global casino giants, it would leave 20 to 25 licenses for domestic operators.
Alberto Cestrone, the ABR’s President, made his case for consideration, stating at the meeting of the Joint Parliamentary Front in Defence of Tourism, “While we understand casinos are important for the generation of employment and taxes, we ask the parliament to consider existing resorts as an ideal space for the installation of casinos. Resorts are a natural product to absorb such a venture. It doesn’t need big investments and still has good gastronomy and structure already ready to make it work.”
2016 Gambling Bill Tied to Azi’s Bill
An omnibus gambling bill was introduced to the Brazilian legislature in 2016, but the legislation repeatedly has stalled over the past 3 years. Last month, the General Committee of the House of Deputies attached Paulo Azi’s bill to the 2016 draft legislation.
The 2016 gambling bill included legalized bingo gambling and state lotteries. The bill also includes legalized jogo do bicho (“the animal game“), a popular game among Brazil’s masses, though it is illegal at the moment.
Three Sao Paolo Casino Licenses
Brazilian states with populations of 15 million or less would receive one casino licenses. States with populations between 15 million and 25 million would receive two casino licenses. States with a population of more than 25 million would receive three casino licenses.
Under that plan, Sao Paulo is the only Brazilian state which would receive three casino licenses. With over 45 million residents, the state of Sao Paulo would be targeted by many of the biggest casino companies. The city of Sao Paulo’s metropolitan population exceeds 7.6 million people, while it is the country’s capital and its financial center.
Two Rio de Janeiro Casino Licenses
Because of its reputation as a tourism and leisure destination, Rio de Janeiro would be another focus of casino development. Rio de Janeiro has a population of 1.5 million, a metropolitan population (including suburbs) of 4.5 million, and a state population of 16.7 million. Rio would receive 2 casino licenses, which also would attract attention by top developers.
Of course, all of the speculation is based on Jair Bolsonaro’s approval, or the unlikely chance he would approve. During last year’s election campaign, Bolsanaro said casino gambling would be a focus of money laundering and he described the possibility of him signing casino legislation “nonsense”.
Bolsanaro also said gambling is “detrimental to Brazilian homes…causing major family chaos,” so the odds the Brazilian president would approve of Paulo Azi’s bill remains low.