Casino mogul and Forbes’ 2017 world’s richest gambling billionaire, Sheldon Adelson, has reportedly met with Rio De Janeiro Mayor Marcelo Crivella and President Michel Temer to pitch an idea for an $8 billion resort project in Rio, according to local media portal O Globo. Although the official cause of the meeting was cited as being related to tourism investments in the said amount, speculations rise about a new casino resort project in the making and a much-awaited approval of a gambling legislation.
Gambling, whether online or in land-based casinos, has been outlawed for decades in Brazil. In recent years, there have been laborious efforts to move things forward and draft and pass a new gambling legislation, one of which was finally approved by the Brazil’s Senate Committee in November 2016. The bill, a result of over 10 months of work, was supposed to be voted on last December, but was bumped back and is still awaiting further approval.
Adelson’s meeting with local representatives is leading to rumors that legislation might finally take form, considering the billionaire’s influence and political prowess. Adelson has previously spoken about the investment opportunities in the Latin American nation, calling Brazil a “potentially very good” business opportunity for his Sands casino brand, although not without criticism to the country’s infrastructure.
However, he is also a vocal opponent of online casinos, having formed a coalition to ban online casino games on a federal level and being a financial supporter of the RAWA Act, which aims to do so. Considering the current stage of the legislation, concerns are also raised as to whether Adelson will have some influence over the online section of the final legislation.