Paraguay's Sports-Betting Concession Process Plagued With Familiar Problems

October 11, 2022
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Despite accusations of corruption, on October 31 regulator Conajzar will open envelopes which contain bids for the exclusive concession to operate sports bidding in Paraguay for the next five years, a contract that is reportedly worth $500m.

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Despite accusations of corruption, on October 31 regulator Conajzar will open envelopes which contain bids for the exclusive concession to operate sports bidding in Paraguay for the next five years, a contract that is reportedly worth $500m.

The contract is expected to go to the current operator, Daruma Sam. There are allegations that the current bidding process has more strict guidelines than the one five years ago in 2017, which critics such as ABC color media and several congressmen say is a veiled attempt to make sure that Daruma Sam is the only business that can qualify for the contract.

Restrictions include that the bidder has to have $3m in available cash, a sum that is 25 percent higher than the requirement in 2017. Less controversially, the company also has to be local to Paraguay.

Finally, the winner has to have the means to pay out any prize winners that are worth more than the pot, which is to say they cannot rely on funding prize winnings in those instances with the money raised from the lottery or game itself.

Separately, senator Blas Llano, a lawyer and the former leader of the Senate, declared at the end of September that he is drafting a bill to help clean up the industry and “prevent irregularities”.

He once again cited the slot machines that he says are still present in common businesses, when they should only be in gambling halls. Meanwhile, the slots law which was promulgated in June has yet to be regulated, becoming more irrelevant with each passing day.

Conajzar was embroiled in scandal for awarding the slot machines contract to a company of dubious origins called iCrop, which has since been voided. Javier Balbuena, the former head of Conajzar in an era before it was publicly plagued with problems, told Vixio at that time that “what Conajzar should have done is to annul the mentioned resolution, declaring it illegal”.

But Balbuena also said in June that he expected Conajzar to move forward from the scandal by preparing for the bidding by “drafting the terms and conditions” to be ready for public offers. Instead, the process remains dogged by questions, frustrating the industry and critics alike.

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