In the 1930s in Rio de Janeiro, casinos were the fortune and misfortune of the Brazilian social elite. The “Cassino de Copacabana” and the Atlantic Casino in Copacabana (both on the Avenida Atlantica, with games of baccarat, craps, roulette, and black jack) attracted the sophisticated society of the time, toasting it, even with the presentations of famous national and international musicians.
This atmosphere of glamour fell apart on April 30, 1946, when then-president, Eurico Gaspar Dutra, attended to the supposed request of his wife, Dona Santinha, banned gambling across the country. The buildings where the casinos were operated were adapted for other activities and thus ended the era of great music shows and gaming that occurred on their premises.
The president, using the powers granted to him in Article 180 of the Constitution and since the crackdown on gambling was called ‘an imperative of universal consciousness’, whereas the criminal law of all cultured contains provisions aimed at this purpose, considering that ‘traditional moral, legal and religions of the Brazilian people is contrary to the practice and operation of gambling’. The exceptions open to the general law passed shelters for these casinos which were labeled as ‘harmful to morals and good manners’, and the licenses and concessions for the practice of gambling in the city of Rio de Janeiro and the hotels, were given a temporary basis and could be revoked at any time if they did not close on their own.
The President of the Republic, Dutra, met with the Ministry and issued the decree which extinguished gambling throughout the country. The impact of this measure of government in the capital and was astounding and shocking. The editions of the evening papers sold out quickly, under the popular enthusiasm of the comments. A firm decision by the highest authorities of the Republic, the way it was written by decree, so there would be no delayed application of its effects by any one administration. The law went into force the very same day, as soon as the “Official Gazette” from the government published it – all this shows that the head of government was attentive to ‘upholding the highest national interests.’
The Brazilian people warmly welcomed President Dutra’s law which had just been issued. The Radical was the only newspaper for a long period of Brazilian public life, and it never stopped fighting gambling, seeing it as a terrible social evil.
The wave of gambling, the beginning of spas, and trips to the seaside towns won the entire population’s interest, at least those living in the interior of the country. There were men in the government that suffered a tremendous social falling for the allocations for spending on gambling made by the administration.