Brazil's cash-strapped government considers legalising gambling

The Brazilian government is in talks with lawmakers to increase revenues by legalising gambling, after they signalled that the government will struggle to overcome a budget deficit by passing a controversial new tax.

The country is facing its worst recession in 25 years, and proponents say it can no longer afford to forego what could be R$23.5bn (£3.69bn) in annual gambling taxes. ‘When Brazilians want to gamble, they go to Paraguay, Montevideo, Las Vegas ... and they leave all the money there’, said Mauricio Quintella, one of the lawmakers tasked with leading consultations on the idea. Many Brazilians also gamble online, and the illegal gambling market is worth roughly R$18bn (£2.83bn).

A hard sell

But in a country where many associate casinos with corruption, winning over the public could prove a challenge. ‘You talk about gaming and people think about fraud, money laundering, mafia and addiction’, said Luiz Felipe Maia, a Sao Paulo-based lawyer specialising in gaming. He thinks the key to avoiding past errors and corruption is more thorough regulation, including a new federal agency to prevent addiction to gambling and oversee payouts. Source: Reuters

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