Football and gaming at the FIFA World Cup

Will Brazil open up to gaming activities in this summer’s World Cup?

The 2014 FIFA World Cup is just around the corner. And as people begin to purchase airplane tickets, and buy stadium tickets for one of the world’s biggest sporting events, the debate on regulating gaming has once again ensued in Brazil. While a majority of gaming activities were covered by a government ban in the 1960s, a plethora of new forms that were not foreseen by authorities that have since emerged. Calls to allow casino activity for the FIFA World Cup have since snowballed in the country.

Except for lotteries and limited forms of gaming, commercial casino operations are not allowed in the country. It’s weird as other gaming activities such as the aforementioned lottery and bingo have become extremely popular among Brazilians. Slot machines were slowly introduced in hotels and arcades in the country: gaming giant International Game Technology, the brains behind Castle Jackpot, even set up its local office in Sao Paulo. Brazilians continue to play blackjack or baccarat in pubs, while virtual casino rooms have sprouted like mushrooms on the Internet.

As Brazil hosts the 2014 FIFA World Cup (as well as the 2016 Olympics), the issue of allowing wide scale casino operations in Brazil resurfaced. The Brazilian Gaming Congress, which was held last November, echoed the call to open the country to casino-related foreign investments. According to the delegates, Brazil could draw on some inspiration from Britain’s successful staging of the 2012 Olympics, which generated millions of pounds from regulating casino activity. With the influx of casino-crazy football fans from around the world, Brazil could easily tap into these new sources of revenue to fuel its thriving economy. Besides, games like blackjack and slots have a huge following within the football community: 2-time World Cup competitors Tony Cascarino and Teddy Sheringham became professional poker players, which goes to show the popularity of casino games in among footballers and fans alike.

This summer’s FIFA World Cup may force Brazilian authorities to rethink their general policy on gaming. As the casino-loving football players and fans arrive in the country, a stronger emphasis on casinos and gaming will be instilled among Brazilians that may last even beyond the World Cup. Gaming, it appears, could be one of the legacies that the World Cup and football will leave behind in Brazil.

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