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Sheldon Adelson Considering $8B Casino In Brazil

Project Would Come If Country Allows Casino Gambling

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Rio de Janeiro

Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson is considering a pitch for an $8 billion casino in Brazil, according to reports out of the country.

Should the country permit Las Vegas-style casinos, the market could be one of the largest in the world, possibly only trailing Las Vegas and Macau. Japan, which recently legalized casinos, is also expected to be among the top casino markets worldwide.

However, Adelson’s opposition to online gaming (because it potentially threatens his casino empire) could make it difficult for him in a country that is looking at several gambling expansion initiatives. An online poker bill cleared a Senate committee as recently as last fall.

“All of the players in the industry know that the mogul is critical of sports betting, online gaming and of video bingo,” according to the Brazilian Legal Gaming Institute. “He is interested in the fact that Singapore’s [gambling] model is imported, that is, that few casinos [are allowed] and that the rest of the modalities are not legalized.”

Despite this, Adelson has met with Brazilian President Michel Temer to discuss the potential Rio de Janeiro casino. Adelson reportedly is concerned about infrastructure in the country and has met with tourism officials to discuss the issues.

Brazil banned casinos some 70 years ago, but these days many are looking at gambling as a way to boost the national economy and bring in foreign investment. Proposals have called for allowing dozens of casinos in the country.

Should the government approve casinos from foreign operators, it would be “one of the most significant events in gaming history,” according to U.S. and U.K. bookmaker William Hill.

Under Brazilian law, poker and horse betting are allowed because of their skill components. The country also allows the lottery. Major live poker tournaments do take place in the country, but they must be held in so-called poker associations.