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Brazil Needs Casino Resorts to Boost International Tourism, Lawmaker Says

The government of Brazil needs to authorize the construction of a certain number of casino resorts across the country in order to boost its tourism, Federal Deputy Paulo Azi said on Wednesday. Mr. Azi presides the Tourism Committee at Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies.

The lawmaker spoke with local media during a Wednesday event celebrating the official launch of electronic visas for Americans. As from today, January 25, American residents will be able to apply for visas to Brazil electronically. In addition, the visa price has dropped to $40 from $160. The government of the South American country has undertaken the move in a bid to attract greater tourist flow from the United States.

The number of US tourists heading to Brazil decreased to 570,000 in 2016, when Brazil hosted the summer Olympics from 657,000 in 2014. The country’s government hopes that the lower visa price and the simplified application process would attract more visitors from the States.

Overall, Brazil welcomed a little over 6.5 million tourists in 2017, or nearly half the number of people who visited Singapore last year. Here it is important to note that the city-state legalized casino gambling in the mid-2000s. It had two operational integrated resorts with casino floors by the turn of the current decade.

Brazil’s Minister of Tourism Marx Beltrão said during yesterday’s event that if they find the right formula for developing Brazil into an attractive tourism destination, this could result in R$170 million being poured into the local economy every year.

Legal Status of Gambling in Brazil

With very few exceptions, gambling is generally illegal in South America’s largest country. For several years now, lawmakers have been considering a sweeping reform that would change Brazil’s gambling regulatory regime drastically and would expand the list of legal gaming and betting activities significantly. However, no gambling expansion proposal has been signed into law so far, despite the efforts.

Two separate gambling bills were introduced in Brazil’s National Congress several years ago, on in the Chamber of Deputies and the other in the Senate. The Senate piece – PLS 186/2014 – has gained more media attention, as it is the one to be calling for massive gambling expansion across Brazil and across all gambling sectors. Generally speaking, the bill provides for the legalization of casino gambling and of online gaming and betting, among other things.

Late last year, the bill stalled in the Senate’s Constitution and Justice Commission and it is yet to be announced when exactly commissioners will be able to finally cast their votes.

The potential legalization of casino gambling in Brazil has drawn the attention of some of the world’s casino powerhouses, including Las Vegas giants Las Vegas Sands and Caesars Entertainment. Reports emerged last spring that Las Vegas Sands CEO and Chairman Sheldon Adelson, in a meeting with Brazilian President Michel Temer, has revealed plans to build an $8-billion casino resort in Rio de Janeiro. Emerging from bankruptcy, fellow casino giant Caesars Entertainment has also said that Brazil has been one of the destinations it would gladly expand its presence to.

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