The President of Paraguay, Horacio Cartes, has submitted draft legislation to Congress that aims to grow the nation’s casino industry while implementing better regulations and controls.

If subsequently passed by the 80-member Chamber Of Deputies and then ratified by the South American nation’s 45-member Senate, the new legislation would allow the government, either by itself or via concession with a third party, to operate gambling establishments and attempt to increase tourism and raise foreign investment.

The legislation also calls for the Paraguayan Gaming Commission (CONAJZAR) regulator, which is currently under the auspices of the Ministry Of Finance, to be made an autonomous body with its own budget so that it may increase the number of monitoring personnel.

At the same time, Cartes’ measure proposes the implementation of a number of player protection measures as well as a clear government policy on problem gambling. If passed, it would moreover emphasize the importance of emerging technologies and bring in clearer certification measures for new machines and equipment while employing stricter controls over fees.

Casinos have been legal in Paraguay since 1997 although current rules limit their location to provinces with more than 250,000 inhabitants, which encompasses the nation’s states of Central, Itapua, Cordillera, San Pedro, Capital District, Alto Parana and Caazapa. Existing regulations additionally also allow for only one venue in the capital city of Asuncion and this is often cited as a reason for the industry remaining relatively underdeveloped with little foreign investment and a rampant underground market.