Many Latin American countries attribute the success of their gambling industries to casino tourism. Tourism in Latin America is steadily increasing, and it is has been projected that the industry will $200 billion in revenue during the next 10 years. Argentina’s casinos generate $4.5 billion in annual revenues, for example, and much of this money comes from the pockets of tourists.
Brazil, however, cannot claim such numbers. The reason for this is simple: Brazilian gambling laws do not permit the operation of casinos. The only truly legal form of gambling in Brazil is bingo, while slots and sports betting enjoy a foggy position in local gambling laws, being neither strictly legal nor strictly illegal.
Despite Brazil’s unusual gambling laws and complete lack of casino gambling, the country is host to the second largest gambling market in all of Latin America, falling just behind Costa Rica where relaxed gambling laws make it a haven for online gambling sites.
While more than half of Brazil’s $7 billion gambling industry comes from the national lottery, the remaining $3 billion is generated through illegal slot machines and unlicensed bingo halls. Slot machines have been around since the mind 90s after a loophole was found in local gambling laws; the hole has yet to be patched, and today there are more than 100,000 semi-legal gambling machines in Brazil.
Bingo is another story. The game is legal, and is very popular in the country, but the number of licensed bingo halls in Brazil is nearly matched by the number of illegal bingo halls. Part of this is due to the fact that bingo in Brazil was made illegal during a few months in 2004, but when it was allowed once again, not everyone bothered to get a new license.
Despite the popularity of bingo in the country, online bingo games in Brazil have never really taken off. There are a few major international bingo sites that accept Brazilian players, even offering services in Portugese and taking deposits in Brazilian Real, but as for bingo sites actually hosted in Brazil, these are few and far between.