Paraguay Grapples With Unauthorised Sites

The online gambling monopoly of Paraguay is kicking back on an annual basis less than $4 million to the government, a situation that the gambling regulator blames for unauthorised competition.

This week, José Ortiz, head of the National Gambling Commission of Paraguay (Conajazar), reported that the online sports gambling monopoly of Aposta.la contributes around G2.1b (US$ 325k) per month to the state treasury, which operates at about $3.9 m per year.

Paraguay has a population of only about 7 m, but Ortiz justified Aposta.la’s paltry online betting returns on at least three unauthorised online gambling operators’ activities. Ortiz has chosen one of these companies as Crown City, which operates the domain of Apuestasjockey.com.

The parent company of Crown City, Montego Trading, worked under a licence from Conajazar until last year, when to Daruma Sam S.A. the parent of Aposta.la, a five-year betting monopoly was awarded amid reports that the Conajazar government and Ortiz’s predecessor had sought to ensure Daruma Sam’s winning of the prize.

Soon after the monopoly came into effect, Crown City’s land-based operations were raided despite Montego Trading appealing the constitutionality of Conajazar’s decision. Paraguayan prosecutors filed illegal gambling charges this August against two members of Crown City and another from Enfield, which runs the betting brand of Apostamina in direct violation of the perceived monopoly of Aposta.la.

This week, Ortiz regretted the regulator’s lack of official powers to “counter” illegal online competition and urged parliament to pass legislation “adapting, upgrading and modernising a statute that is already quite outdated.”

This month, Paraguay’s football market was thrown into chaos after local media reported that Marco Trovato, president of the Asociación Paraguaya de Fútbol (APF) champs Olimpia, also operates a payment processor with an exclusive contract to manage Aposta.la transactions.

Trovato’s dual position was an obvious violation of FIFA regulations which forbids representatives from having “any interests, either directly or indirectly” in betting operations. The other clubs of the APF have called on Aposta.la to stop taking wagers on their games.

Trovato accused the APF this week of seeking to control betting on its own, citing a 2017 document in which the league sought to be named the sole body entitled to the “economic exploitation” of wagering football. The APF dismissed the arguments of Trovato, stating that it only wanted to defend its members ‘ cultural, financial and intellectual property interests.