A Brazilian brick-and-mortar casino operator’s impetuousness has brought down the long arm of the law.
Last week, Grupo Pefaco opened its Winfil casino in Porto Alegre, but its 460 slot machines were restricted to ‘demonstration’ mode, i.e. free-play gambling only, due to Brazil having yet to explicitly authorize real-money casino gambling.
But Saturday saw the casino commence real-money gambling based on a court injunction barring local law enforcement from seizing any of Winfil’s gaming machines. However, the judge who issued that injunction told local media on Monday that her injunction applied only if the machines were still in demonstration mode and had offered no comment regarding the illegality of casino gambling.
As one might expect, the authorities didn’t tolerate Winfil’s boldness for long. Brazilian affiliate Games Magazine Brasil reported that officers from the Civil Police and the state Prosecutor’s Office rolled up in “dozens” of vehicles to disrupt the goings-on, much to the dismay of the casino’s patrons, who chanted ‘we just want to play.’ (See video at bottom of page, which includes said chanting as well as the furious but ultimately futile arguments of Winfil’s lawyers.)
The authorities reportedly took no chances of clashing with the injunction barring them from seizing gaming machines by producing warrants referencing “objects directly related to the exploitation of games of chance.”
In practice, this meant the cops left the machines where they stood but seized the money inside the machines as well as their controller boards, effectively leaving Winfil with row after row of mute cabinets and monitors.
Winfil executives were reportedly detained and taken to the local booking facility where they were required to sign documents acknowledging their wicked, wicked ways.
Brazil is currently in the process of approving sweeping gambling reforms, which will reportedly include the authorization of multiple casinos across the country. There are two competing gaming bills in each house of the bicameral legislature, and the Chamber of Deputies has promised to bring its version to the floor for a vote in November.