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By Charlotte Markham, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The minister of tourism in Brazil, Henrique Eduardo Alves, once again defended a proposal to legalize gambling in the country, at the opening of the tourism fair, Destination Brazil Travel Mart, yesterday (May 18th). Presently, gambling is prohibited in Brazil, but Alves cited the legalization of gambling as one of the priorities on his agenda.

Brazil's minister of tourism, Henrique Eduardo Alves, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Brazil News
Brazil’s minister of tourism, Henrique Eduardo Alves, defends the proposal to legalize gambling, photo by Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/Agência Brasil.

Alves led the Ministry of Tourism between April 2015 until March 28, 2016, when he left office after his party, the PMDB decided to leave the coalition with the then-President Dilma Rousseff-lead PT (Workers’ Party) and give up all the positions it held in the federal government.

With Rousseff’s departure for up to 180 days to defend her possible impeachment, Alves returned to his former position last week. During his first stint in the job, Alves had advocated the legalization of gambling, and had also drafted a bill based on legalized gambling legislation in countries such as England, Spain, Portugal, Argentina and Uruguay.

Alves defended his proposal saying, “We must have the courage to face in a serious, professional and republican way the legalization of gambling. Currently, people play clandestinely, without generating any revenue for the country.”

Although the minister and some lawmakers are pushing the legislation, the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) is against the initiative. During a hearing in March, Secretary of Institutional Relations, Peterson de Paula, concluded that there is not enough evidence or comparative studies to prove that monetizing and regulating casinos and bingo parlors guarantees a positive impact on revenue as enjoyed by other countries.

De Paula added that “previous experience shows that gambling is generally exploited by groups linked to money laundering for tax evasion and corruption.”

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