Mario Abdo Benitez, President of Paraguay has signed an executive order that will overhaul the South American nation’s land-based gambling laws.
This week, Abdo Benitez fulfilled a principal mandate of the ANR Colorado (Conservative) government signing Law-6903 ‘Ley de Tragamonedas’ as a federal order to be implemented across Paraguay’s 17 provinces.
The Law’s headline directive will implement a ban on slot machines from being operated by non-gambling venues and will further outlaw the installation of gambling machines outside of licensed gaming halls.
Signing the executive order, Abdo Benitez reiterated that “the prohibition of slot machines in free-trade shops was a necessary measure for the protection of children and to prevent gambling addiction spreading across Paraguayan provinces”.
Of significance, Law-6903 will further change the oversight of gambling machines, as regional municipalities will be charged with the licensing of provincial concessions and permits to provide games of chance to authorised businesses.
As a result of inbound changes, Paraguayan gambling regulator Conajzar will be forced to void its existing contract with iCrop SA as the exclusive provider of slot and games machine management and distribution for Paraguay.
The executive order is reported to have caused a rift between the ANR Colorado government and Conajzar President Maria Galvan, who supported a different course of action to regulate slot machines.
Working with Taiwan-financed iCrop, Galvan had outlined her support to ‘regularized use’ of gambling machines within designated entertainment and leisure venues, that would monitored by Conajzar utilising new iCrop solutions.
However, Conajzar relationship with iCrop drew scrutiny last year, as Paraguayan newspaper ABC released a series of audio files, in which Conajzar officials admitted to discrepancies in slot machines that could be used for money laundering and tax evasion.
Paraguayan municipalities and local business owners demanded that the government review Conajzar authority on slot machine licences and its recommendation of iCrop as sole distributor of gambling machines.
Moving forward, Law 6903 will allow municipalities to impose fines, which will represent a minimum salary. In case of several violations, the fine will be multiplied and the machines will be destroyed.
In order to control prize payments, municipalities must maintain databases to identify players, the machine they used and the value of their wagers, amongst other core criteria.