Paraguay Enhanced Slot Machine Law Dies as Deadline Passes

Posted on: July 25, 2022, 09:32h. 

Last updated on: July 25, 2022, 02:52h.

An attempt to bring a new level of activity to Paraguay’s legal gambling market has ended. 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 law above 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.

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 resolutions regarding protecting the vulnerable population, especially children and adolescents, from developing a gambling addiction.

End of the Road

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 indicates the government’s unwillingness to fulfill the legislature’s will to end 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 that branch 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 to operate 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 regarding the operation of slots.

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

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.