Paraguay has begun enforcing its new sports betting monopoly, although the companies facing the authorities’ wrath aren’t going without a fight.
In March, Paraguay’s National Commission of Games of Chance (Conajzar) confirmed the awarding of a five-year monopoly license to Daruma Sam S.A. to operate sports betting under its Apostala (Aposta.la) brand. The monopoly took effect last month and the authorities have begun taking action against the nine betting licensees whose operations are now forbidden.
Last week, local media outlet RDN quoted legal representatives of two betting firms, Montego SA and Enfield, which operate under the Crown and Apostamina brands, respectively, relating how their premises were visited by agents of the National Police and Public Prosecutor, reportedly at Conajzar’s request.
Both firms were operating under a judicial order while their legal challenge of the constitutionality of Conajzar’s decision is before the courts. Montego SA’s lawyer Paola Villalba maintains that the raids were intended to discredit Daruma Sam’s rivals by instructing the public that their operations were illegal.
The raided venues had their betting gear confiscated by the authorities and Enfield attorney Agustín Saguier said his client’s payment processing contract was abruptly curtailed by its PagoPar provider. A PagoPar attorney claimed to have received a call ordering the termination of the service to Apostamina, but didn’t disclose from where this call originated.
Paraguay’s process of awarding its betting monopoly to Daruma Sam was fraught with controversy, including allegations of political interference that ultimately convinced Conajzar’s former chief to resign before his term was up, leaving the signing of the Daruma Sam contract to his successor.
Paraguay is scheduled to undergo a change in political leadership in August, following a general election in April. The new leadership has already put the kibosh on a sketchy 10-year renewal of the licenses of several brick-and-mortar casino operators whose current licenses weren’t even scheduled to expire until 2025.