Interview: Dr. Olavo Sales, President, ABRABINCS on the future of the Brazilian gaming market

Interview: Dr. Olavo Sales, President, ABRABINCS on the future of the Brazilian gaming market

Wednesday, May 11, 2016 Posted by Totally Gaming
Dr Olavo Sales says gambling will bring "a large influx of capital and technology which will lead to a new chain of businesses"

Ahead of the Brasilian Gaming congress (BgC)  11 – 12 May 2016 and the country’s potential to emerge as a major gaming jurisdiction, interviews  Dr Olavo Sales, President of ABRABINCS (Brasilian Bingo & Casino Association) who gives his view on efforts to legalise gambling, the key challenges and his assessment of the future of gambling in Brazil.

Dr Olavo Sales is also set to address “Avoiding historical mistakes in the creation of the gambling market in Brazil” on day one of BgC event this week. What is your role and that of ABRABINCS in current efforts to legalise gambling in Brazil?

OS: Here in Brazil we haven't had legal gambling since the ban on casinos in the long-ago year of 1946. At that time a perception arose in society that gambling is not a healthy industry; the watchword of prohibition, which was taken up by various civil society organisations, projects the image that this is a harmful activity, and our work has been to give society and government authorities a realistic view of what this activity represents as an entertainment industry in an absolute majority of Western countries and the benefits represented by regulation. Why is this the ideal time to regulate gambling in Brazil?

OS: The situation in Brazil presents a curious picture. We know that the legalisation of gambling brings benefits such as job creation, with the creation of formal employment; income for workers; taxes for the State.  It dynamises a chain of ancillary activities supporting the gambling industry; casinos act to support the development of the tourist industry; it offers a choice of leisure activities for the urban population, and it takes illegal gambling off the list of misdemeanours on the statute book.
On the other hand, keeping this activity prohibited and exploited by criminal activity as it is now gives rise to room for embezzlement, smuggling, money-laundering, corruption, tax evasion and violence. I believe that a dispassionate assessment suggests that regulation is the way forwards. What stage are you at with regard to legalisation? What timetable do you anticipate for finalising this?

OS: Legislation is being discussed by Special Commissions in both houses of Congress, and we believe that by May we will get a Bill approved that has already gone through both houses of Congress and is ready to go for presidential approval. Once this step has been completed, we calculate that in 6 to 9 months' time we will get the first gambling licenses being issued. What are the main challenges you identify at present, and how they can be resolved?

OS: We realise that there is a large proportion of senior officials in the ranks of the executive who have formed an opinion of this activity based on values inculcated into our society by those who advocate maintaining the ban, using many unsustainable arguments such as [the argument] that it is a force leading family morality astray; that it is an activity that brings together a [great] concentration of money-launderers; fears that every citizens in the country will become addicted, and that the activity is impossible to control. These senior officials may work to impose unreasonable restrictions that would effectively prevent this activity from establishing itself and attracting investment. We do not have tax laws designed to cover this activity, and there is a growing tendency to treat gambling purely as a lottery activity without evaluating the nature of gambling in fiscal terms – that is to say, considering the turnover in betting, which is not recognised by our tax system. How are legislators going about understanding/learning about the industry in order to be sure that the right decisions are being taken?

OS: In the Special Commissions we have legislators hearing representatives of gambling activities from other countries, and consulting various representatives of civil society who have the opportunity to express themselves for and against the legalisation of gambling in Brazil. The decision made during the Congress should establish a framework for whether or not we are going to have regulated gambling. The form that regulation will take will undoubtedly be determined by a specific body to be created for the regulation and control of the activity – which is both desirable and essential. What is your real assessment of the future of gambling in Brazil, and what is your ideal scenario?

OS: Brazil is the last country with a large population in Western culture, where betting is an element of our culture, that does not have legalisation of the gambling industry with regard to gambling as a leisure activity. We only have lotteries run by the government.
As the gambling industry is made up of large, transnational industries, we are certain that there will be a large influx of capital and technology which will lead to a new chain of businesses being established very quickly. There are more than 200,000 million of us, we Brazilians who enjoy a bet. For someone looking at Brazil's political situation from the outside, one gets the impression that the regulatory process may be delayed due to the impeachment discussions currently taking place - What is your opinion/comment on this situation?

OS: The decision of the National Congress to work on gambling regulation in Special Commissions is a cross-party position based on the reasons and values that I listed in the previous answer. As well as this, it will bring tax gains for the government without having to create new taxes – and this is a general perception across all parties. Resistance is localised and represents minority groups in society. You're going to attend the Brazilian Gaming Congress (BgC) in Brasilia; what are your expectations for the event? What would you like to take away from this event, and who would you like to meet there?

OS: I will certainly be taking part, and I would like to meet authorities who are likely to be actively involved in the regulatory stage of the activity as well as any members of the Houses of Congress who might be there, so they can get a sense of how gambling is dealt with in countries that live with this activity successfully and derive benefit from it. Is there anything else you want to add?

Here's to the success of the event!

To view the opinions of Dr. Roberto Brasil Fernandes of ABLE, ahead of his address at BgC 2016 please click here to view the full interview.

To download a copy of Gambling Compliance’s ‘Brazil Legislative Update – March 2016’, click here.

The second Brasilian Gaming Congress organised by Clarion Events, takes place from 11 to 12 May 2016. Visit

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