Law to Enhance Slot Machine Laws in Paraguay Dies as Deadline Passes

By | July 25, 2022

An attempt to bring a new level of activity to Paraguay’s legal gambling market has come to an end. Lawmakers had the chance to approve a bill to regulate slot machines, but let the deadline pass without a decision.

Paraguay legislature in session
Paraguay’s legislature in session. Lawmakers are butting heads with the government over the control of the country’s gaming regulator. (Image: El Independiente)

The deadline for the regulation of the slots law expired on July 17. The bill to implement that law emerged in Congress with the intention of stopping the executive branch’s plan to approve the use of slots in more areas, including in many public locations.

Article 10 of the aforementioned law provided that the deadline for the approval of the regulation was 90 days. The National Gambling Commission (Conajzar, for its Spanish acronym) and its interim president, María Galván del Puerto, led the effort.

End of the Road

The law arose in Paraguay to stop Conajzar’s plan to “regularize” the installation and use of slots in freely accessible premises. However, opponents of the plan argued that it went against the provisions of two laws. It also reportedly violated Conajzar’s own resolutions regarding the protection of the vulnerable population, especially children and adolescents, from developing a gambling addiction.

Javier Balbuena, a gambling specialist in Paraguay, believes that the absence of the new law shows the disinterest of President Mario Abdo Benítez. He asserts that it’s an indication of the government’s unwillingness to fulfill the will of the legislature to put an end to the massive use of slots.

Balbuena also believes Conajzar’s efforts can be easily manipulated to the detriment of vulnerable people. As a result, he warned that this situation implies a real danger because it can spread gambling harm and addiction.

He criticized the executive branch for snubbing the parliamentary majority that sanctioned the slot law. He regretted that there are no sanctions for this inaction because it is that branch that must set the rules.

The lack of attention to the bill stems from a controversial relationship between Conajzar and gaming company iCrop. The latter signed an agreement with the regulator for the operation of slot machines, even though Conajzar couldn’t legally authorize it. Because of the uproar that followed, Conajzar later canceled iCrop’s contract.

Executive Branch Ignores Lawmakers’ Requests

In addition to ignoring the law, Conajzar is ignoring the request of lawmaker Jose Rodriguez. He is calling for a public hearing to discuss the regulator’s work as it pertains to the operation of slots.

Scrutiny of Conajzar continues, despite the apparent disinterest on the part of the executive branch of government. Prosecutors recently filed an accusation of breach of trust against José Antonio Ortiz Báez, former head of the regulator, for alleged irregularities in gambling arrangements.

Also accused in the same case were Carmen Corina Alonso, former general director of the Directorate of Charity and Social Assistance Carmen Corina Alonso, Raul Silva, former mayor of Villa Hayes Ricardo Núñez and Rubén Antonio Roussillón.

Also involved is the son of former President Juan Carlos Wasmosy, Álvaro Wasmosy Carrasco, owner of Technologies Development of Paraguay. All of the individuals previously served on Conajzar’s board of directors.

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