More criticism of gambling bill in Paraguay

Debate on the gambling law was postponed by eight days.
Debate on the gambling law was postponed by eight days.

Industry associations and business leaders continue to criticise the bill, which will be debated today.

Paraguay.- A gambling bill that would, among other changes, give greater autonomy to Paraguay’s National Gaming Commission (Conajzar), continues to attract criticism. Debate on the bill was postponed for eight days last Tuesday (December 7).

The bill would rename Conajzar as the National Gaming Directorate (Dinajzar), giving the regulator new powers. Some 20 per cent of Conajzar’s monthly collection would be used for its resources, and the rest distributed to municipalities, governorates and the National Directorate of Social Welfare (Diben) with a new system of calculations.

The monthly collection of the commission is G.12,000m and the current distribution is 30 per cent for municipalities; 30 per cent for governorates; 30 per cent to Diben; and 10 per cent to the National Treasury.

The president of the Paraguayan Association of Gaming Operators (Apoja), Lorena Rojas, told Paraguay’s ABC: “The Ortiz bill has been challenged through the year – not only does not have technical criteria that support it. It also implies a decrease in resources for Diben.

Rojas also questioned the way Dinajzar would manage the terms of municipal competencies. She said: “It will be the Dinajzar that establishes parameters for certain machines to operate or not, and may establish requirements that minor market investors do not meet.”

She claimed that the plan was conceived behind the back of the private sector, without technical criteria to promote responsible gaming. She said: “We see that this project is discretionary, monopolistic, selective and obscure.” 

Carlos Ríos, a gambling entrepreneur also argued that the project centralises control in an institution that only benefits the lottery and sports betting. The proposal will be dealt with this Tuesday at a public hearing called by the Constitutional Affairs Commission

See also: Paraguay: criticism of new gambling bill grows

Previously Apoja joined the Paraguayan Chamber of Gaming and the Paraguayan Association of Gaming Entrepreneurs (Apeja) in sending a letter to Deputy Kattya González to request her support against the bill. The trade associations have turned to several public institutions and asked the commissions for a six-month extension to discuss the proposal.

Representatives claim the initiative does not include qualitative or quantitative data to support it as a “fair, egalitarian and competitive law, which promotes private investment and is a generator of job sources.” They say the project violates the principle of equality before the law and freedom of competition by establishing a tax difference and monopoly of the current lottery operator, Technologies Development of Paraguay SA (TDP)

They also criticise the centralization of licensing and that the bill does not guarantee “participation and transparency”, since it is not subject to public procurement legislation.

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