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Paraguay – Local governments failing to comply with slot ban

By - 6 February 2024

Lorena Rojas the President of The Association of Gaming Operators (APOJA) has come out against a number of local governments for not enforcing the slot ban in Paraguay.

“The law is not a dead letter (ineffective). What actually exists are complacent authorities and privileged operators, because in Encarnación there are no machines on the streets, and in Limpio, their regulations were updated, but this is not the case in the vast majority of municipalities in the country,” she said.

Her statement comes after the president of Paraguay Santiago Peña signed a decree which prohibits slot machines in locations not dedicated exclusively to gambling in January. Slots are no longer permitted in bars, grocery stores, bars, bakeries as well as other establishments. The main objective of the bill is to prevent minors from gambling and eradicate street gambling. All municipalities in the country were given until January 27th to ensure that slots were off the streets.

In April 2022 President Mario Abdo Benítez enacted the law after the measure had been approved in the Senate at the end of March. Although it had already been passed certain aspects of the law were missing. President Peña’s decree means that the law is now in force and the respective controls can now be carried out by the municipal governments and the board. Slots found to be operating outside non gambling designated zones should be destroyed according to the new rules.

For Rojas, the authorities are acting as accomplices because they are preventing the control of the money circulating in slots, and also allowing for tax evasion and money laundering. “We are gathering reports and will file serious and responsible complaints,” she said.

Meanwhile, the head of Conajzar, Carlos Liseras, told local newspaper ABC that the 263 municipalities have until Thursday, February 8, to comply with the provisions of the decree.

Liseras said that only the municipality of Fernando de la Mora had updated its ordinance in order to align with the decree’s provisions, and the municipality of Naranjal had notified Conajzar of the number of authorized halls they had in operation.

To carry out the controls, the head of Conajzar indicated that they are coordinating actions with the National Police, the Public Ministry, and the National Directorate of Tax Revenues (DNIT).

“We are coordinating tasks to combat clandestine gambling throughout the country, both in the Eastern and Western Regions, and not only slot machines, but all clandestine betting,” Liseras warned, indicating that according to their estimates, revenue could double, thus significantly increasing funds allocated to Diben, an organization dedicated to providing healthcare assistance to people in need.

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