Complexity Behind Legalised Gambling In Brazil

And What Other Countries Did Differently

Brazil is a country home to some incredible culture. From their amazingly skilled footballers, to the carnivals that put the likes of Mardi Gras and the Notting Hill Carnival to shame, it’s a country that rests warmly in the hearts of many. However, while the traditions may take up much of our attention, their gambling industry suffers in the background. Recently, the country’s senate voted against a bill that would legalise the activity in the country and to many, this was the wrong decision.

As always, things aren’t quite as simple as they seem. Here, we’re exploring just why Brazil should be legalising gambling, and how other countries have acted differently.

What Is Happening In Brazil?

Gambling in Brazil is, as you might expect, illegal, but citizens of the country certainly aren’t in the habit of following the rules all of the time. Illegal gambling and exploitation certainly aren’t new to the country. In fact, ever since the creation of the Brazilian empire, gambling has been going on without regulation or government support. However, with new technologies and better access to online gambling sites that allow anonymous, international gaming, it’s becoming easier than ever to place bets and play games.

The Jogo do Bicho in particular is causing the Brazilian government to struggle for control. This game, also known as ‘the animal game’, has been prohibited since as early as 1946, but is still widely popular amongst Brazil’s rich and poor. While the game itself is fairly innocent in nature, the corruption surrounding its play certainly isn’t, with criminals bribing the police and other less-than-honest officials to look the other way whenever a game takes place. The game itself has been around for so long that it’s filled with tradition, and with the one cent bet minimum, the Brazilians certainly aren’t ready to let go of it.

Why Is It Happening?

So, why aren’t Brazil legalising the act? On average, a healthy gambling industry can be worth up to 1% of the country’s total GDP, which would suggest a total market in Brazil of £12bn a year. As a country with an incredibly high deficit, they could certainly do with the money, so the argument rests as to whether or not Brazil are missing out by keeping this money-making industry illegal.

However, legalising gambling here certainly isn’t as simple as it might seem. Of course, the revenue that could be pulled in from the industry certainly isn’t something to be overlooked, but the main argument is that the senate don’t want to fuel or encourage addiction. With illegal gambling already rife within the country, however, the argument rests that by legalising and regulating the industry, they’re more likely to have better control over those that play each game.

Unfortunately, the Senate did vote 13-2 that the bill to legalise gambling should not be passed. As a result, bingo, online sports betting and casino games remain completely illegal in the country, but whether it stays this way in the future is a matter of time and patience.

What Have Other Places Done Differently?

Brazil isn’t the only country that has had its troubles with gambling, but there are equally as many that have had a thriving gambling and gaming industry for years with minimal trouble. From the UK who have a healthy industry that can see anyone gamble, create their own games and even add them to markets, to the USA who have legal gambling in some states but not others, the approach is certainly varied around the world. Here, we’re exploring just a few to give you a taste as to how the rest of the world is dealing with such a lucrative market.


If you’re looking for somewhere to gamble, heading to Europe is probably your best bet. The UK, Spain and German in particular have some of the biggest gambling markets in the world that are well regulated both at in-land casinos, and online. Most European countries have fully legalised all kinds of gambling, but of course there are exceptions. France and Iceland, for example, have made online gambling illegal, but allowed land-based casinos and other types of gambling like sports betting and bingo. Similarly, while the Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, Switzerland and Ukraine have technically made online gambling illegal, you won’t find yourself in much trouble if you try – just don’t try and gamble in Turkey!

North America

North America is difficult to keep track of when it comes to gambling. Canada and Mexico are fairly safe if you want to place your bets, but the USA on the other hand isn’t quite as lenient. You may be wondering how that could be the case considering that Las Vegas is known as one of the best casino locations in the world, but the fact of the matter is, you won’t get much gambling once you step away from The Strip. Nevada has legalised gambling since March 19th 1931, and New York, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey and Delaware are also pretty much okay with gambling, but if you’re passing through any other state, you won’t get the same A-Okay attitude.

South America

Of course, Brazil is within South America, but what about the neighbouring countries? If you’re planning to visit Argentina, Peru, Panama, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic, then you’re good to go as far as gambling is concerned. These countries have a perfectly regulated system, however Chile does not. Like Brazil, gambling is illegal in Chile, however playing in off-shore casinos is often something that you can do without the government blinking an eye. In Ecuador, gambling was legal until 2010, where President Rafael Correa banned all forms of gambling whether online or land-based, and if you’re in Cuba? Don’t even try.


It can be difficult to determine where in Asia you can gamble and where you cannot. Much of Asia has a huge gaming industry that sees countless video games and some of the best and longest-lasting gaming computer technology gracing the market regularly, however the approach to gambling is different. Japan have recently softened up their stance on gambling, however they still have yet to legalise it, while Singapore have outlawed the act completely.

Taiwan have made everything but sports betting illegal, and Thailand has banned all gambling but won’t really act if you play on foreign sites. Malaysia technically have legalised land-based casinos, but with just one single casino in the whole country, it could be quite the trek. Vietnam have legal land-based casinos, but only for tourists and foreign visitors. China has made all gambling except physical sports betting illegal unless you visit Macau where the laws are lax.

South Korea is similar to Malaysia in that land-based casinos are legal, however there, once again, is only a single casino in the whole of the country. South Korean’s can bet on sports online or offline too, but if you’re in North Korea, you probably already know it’s not worth even saying the word ‘gamble’. India is an interesting case. While gambling is illegal due to a very, very old law, makeshift and illegal casinos pop up in people’s homes on a regular basis!

The gambling industry is certainly one that can be a struggle to understand around the world. While some countries have a well-regulated and legalised approach, others have laws so strict that you can barely even talk about gambling. Online gambling seems to bring about the most foggy of laws, with some countries allowing online gambling, or looking the other way provided that they are hosted in another country. Brazil’s approach to gambling, however, is a strange one. With the deficit the country is facing, and a potentially highly profitable industry right at their fingertips, it’s no wonder that citizens and experts alike are questioning just why they decided against passing the legalised gambling bill this year.

the author

He’s a cat. He likes to play video games. He often has a hard time with this since he’s a gamer cat living in a gamer human world, but he gets by.