A number of important groups part of the gaming industry in Paraguay have reunited during the Fifth Conversation on Gambling reunion held every year in the country. The Paraguayan Chamber of Gambling together with the Association of Gambling Entrepreneurs, the Association of Gambling Operators, representatives of the Secretariat for the Prevention of Money Laundering and a number of domestic and global specialists and businessmen shared views on how to refine the gambling industry in the country. The gathering was not attended by any members of Paraguay’s gaming regulator National Gaming Commission (Conajzar).
The Industry Needs to Hit the Refresh Button
Among other important topics of discussion, the gathering tackled the burning matter of money laundering in the country. This is not a new topic for Paraguay, as the money laundering prevention dilemma has been up for discussion for nearly ten years. Some talks took place before the National Congress and a committee part of the Financial Action Task Force of Latin America. As a result of past talks, operators were supposed to start collaborating with the National Development Bank and pay royalties and other financial obligations to Conajzar. Nonetheless, operators seem to still be having a hard time working together with private banks.
During the Fifth Conversation on Gambling reunion, several industry representatives expressed their willingness to bring their own contribution to the table against this phenomenon. They, however, also expressed their current inability to act against the problem because the current legislation is making it almost impossible for them to act.
Gaming industry consultant Luis Mario Rojas explained that the country’s regulator does not consider it mandatory for operators to be deemed accountable for the money laundering prevention measures they are putting into practice. This, according to many operators, explains the priorities of the regulator.
Several individuals formerly connected to Conajzar, including former president José Antonio Ortiz Báez, faced a series of allegations over suspicious dealings. José Antonio Ortiz Báez was subject to an investigation initiated by the Board of Directors of the Chamber of Senators of Paraguay in regard to a contract signed between the regulator and the company iCrop SA, a company responsible for monitoring slot machines in the country.
Updates Still Missing
Conajzar explained the lack of necessary action through a lack of personnel and an overload of work. The same arguments were brought to explain the missing updates regarding the mandatory list of licensed gaming operators in the country on Conajzar’s website. At the moment, even the names of the persons involved with the respective operators are missing from the platform. The same work overload has caused a delay in the introduction of fresh regulations for slot machine operators. While the country’s government successfully passed the new legislation half a year ago, no progress has been recorded ever since.
In September, Conajzar announced a new tender to offer sports betting rights in Paraguay’s provinces. Participants had to pay an $8,700 guarantee while the winner would establish a physical presence in the country. The conclusion of the tender process was also a slow one, with the concession reaching Daruma Sam and the Apostala brand.