On the night of April 30, 1946, in the iconic Copacabana Palace hotel in Rio de Janeiro, the last casino roulette wheel spun in Brazil. Or, at least, the last legal game of roulette. The following day, then-President Eurico Gaspar Dutra issued a decree that outlawed gambling, stating that it “went against Brazil’s religious principles” and created “pernicious abuses to morals and customs.” At that point, Brazil had roughly 70 casinos, and the gambling industry directly employed 40,000 workers.
Though illegal, gambling continued to exist in Brazil, whether in the form of the fabled jogo do bicho animal lottery — a 130-year-old multimillionaire racket which is so popular across the country that it has its own smartphone apps — or illegal, often rigged electronic bingo machines.
And while the gambling lobby has tried for decades to win support in Congress to make a comeback, that push gained new breath once President Jair Bolsonaro rose to power.