The debate in Brazil regarding gambling at either land based casinos or a casino online has changed as a Senate committee soundly defeated a bill that would have made the necessary changes in law that would have opened up the Brazilian gaming market and, at the same time, the Ministry of Tourism has proposed a set of casino resorts that it hopes will provide a big assist to the Brazilian tourist economy.
On the one hand, the legislature seems adamant in opposing legalizing gaming but on the other hand the government sees the possibility that Integrated Resorts, catering primarily to tourists, might give a big boost to the economy.
Gambling in Brazil
A reform bill has been in the works since 2014. The incredible slowness of the legislative process in Brazil means that the bill was still in committee as recently as March. It was under review by the Senate Committee on Constitutional and Judicial Affairs. The committee rejected the proposed reform law by a resounding vote of 13-2. That means that the law is effectively dead at this time although the case for legalized casino gambling in Brazil is still hotly debated in many public forums.
Land and Online Casinos are Different
One complication in the whole legalizing gambling debate is that there is a great deal of difference between land based and online gaming. On the one hand, online gambling is far more convenient than land based gambling. This leads to the argument that online gaming would facilitate problem gambling.
Land based casinos have far more flair than online casinos. Just this week, Pennsylvania passed a new set of regulations for online casinos that will allow one casino operator to run as many online casinos as it sees fit and to have a different façade or “skin” for each one even if under the façade the casinos are all the same. This action by online casino operators is necessary in order to make each casino appear to have its own kind of flair.
Even as land based casinos have grown in number in the last two decades—in the United States this growth has been spurred on by casinos opening on Native American lands; by investors continuing to see Las Vegas a growth market for gambling; and as ways to circumvent the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) which made it almost impossible for online casinos to accept deposits from US based gamers. The UIGEA effectively made land based casinos fully legal and online casinos not exactly illegal but difficult to run for US gamers.
The uneven playing field has sparked growth in the land based casino market.
Brazil Still Unconvinced
In Brazil, there is widespread concern that land based casinos will bring a wave of crime and prostitution to the localities where the casinos would be located. This was the main reason that the Ministry of Tourism began the legislative process for a series of Integrated Resorts in Brazil’s largest cities.
This idea was first proposed and brought to fruition in Singapore. The famously conservative government of Singapore was duly concerned by the prospect of all the negative aspects of legalizing land based casinos. They decided to incorporate casinos with many other venues all in one large and attractive complex to attract both locals and tourists.
An Integrated Resort would have a casino, of course. Thus it would appeal to all those who enjoy the excitement generated by the atmosphere of a large gambling venue with the lights and whistles emanating from the slots banks, to the loud excited screaming that always comes from the roulette and craps tables at a land based casino.
However, an Integrated Resort would have many facilities that would appeal to people who have little or no interest in gambling. So, an Integrated Resort would have a convention center to attract thousands of people each year some of whom, perhaps most of whom, might play a little at the casino but whose primary purpose in being at the resort would be the convention.
An Integrated Resort would have a resort with world class hotel accommodations, pools and water parks, and every other amenity of a resort. This would attract families who would support the costs of the resort without necessarily ever going to the casino. It was expected that mom or dad might find a little time to play some casino games after the kids were asleep but, again, the casino would not be the prime attraction of the resort for them.
An Integrated Resort would have a selection of excellent restaurants, a large shopping mall, and a theater complex running Las Vegas type entertainment plus plays and children’s theater shows. By incorporating all these elements into the resort, Singapore felt that it could be spared the worst elements of land based casinos.
In the Far East, many local governments have hit on the same idea as they saw the logic behind the Singaporean experiment. Now, the idea is making its way into the West. In the United States, even small communities are working on Integrated Resorts because, although the locale of the resort might be a small town or city, it is situated an easy driving distance from a very large population.
In the Catskill Mountains area, just an hour or so from New York City, an Integrated Resort was recently opened. It is located in as rural an area as can be imagined so close to the eastern megalopolis but it has already attracted large crowds from the millions of people who live a short drive of from one to three hours away.
In even more rural areas, a short drive from major cities in the West or the Central Plains, a few Integrated Resorts are either already going up or are being discussed in legislatures.
Future in Brazil
It may still be years away but the idea of Integrated Resorts to solve the fears engendered by free standing land based casinos is likely to come to Brazil. The fate of online casinos in the country is far more uncertain.