The Senate of Paraguay has passed a bill to protect minors from gambling machines.

Municipalities Will Be Allowed to Operate Slot Machines

Paraguayan legislators have adopted a bill that will prevent the privatisation of the country’s gambling regulator, the National Gambling Commission, which last year delegated its slot machine oversight to a private business via a contentious contract.

The Senate passed a law that prohibits slot machine operations in places that aren’t gambling establishments, such as bars, warehouses, and stores, in order to safeguard kids from the effect of slot machines.

The bill, which also seeks to correct the situation in which the National Gambling Commission (Conajzar) delegated its powers over the authorization of slot machine operations at non-exclusive gambling venues to iCrop SA, has been sent to President Mario Abdo Benitez of Paraguay for signature or veto.

In effect, the new bill mandates the removal of all slot machines located in non-exclusive gaming establishments and thus accessible to children, teenagers, and young people. If passed into law, the new bill is estimated to effect about 50,000 gambling machines by granting communities the authority to authorise slot machine operations.

The commercial corporation was assigned the right to permit slot machine activities in non-gambling venues, as well as collect the lion’s share of the taxes from such operations, under a deal struck between Conajzar and iCrop SA last year, effectively privatising the national regulator.

Prosecution of Former Regulator Members is Still Going On

The President instructed the National Anticorruption Secretariat (SENAC) to investigate the deal when local media ABC projected that just over $650,000 of the more than $2.15 million in tax income would go to the state.

The regulator did not answer to two information requests linked to the contract probe, according to Minister of the Secretariat René Fernández. Fernández also highlighted the regulatory body’s lack of transparency, claiming that its website failed to offer access to public documents.

The new measure also provides penalties for non-exclusively gaming facilities that violate the prohibition on slot machine operations.Authorities in Paraguay are currently prosecuting eight people, including former Conajzar head Báez and the head of the Directorate of Charity and Social Assistance (DIBEN), as well as other former members of the regulatory body, for their roles in orchestrating the contract with iCrop SA and profiting personally from it.

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