Confusion Surrounds Bolivian Gambling Ban

25th September 2009 8:06 am GMT

There continue to be conflicting reports on Bolivia's plans to implement strict anti-gambling legislation, with sources suggesting that the House of Representatives approved a bill Thursday to prohibit gambling, a move contrary to current Bolivian law which can only be changed via a referendum in the Legislative Assembly.

The bill was submitted by Gustavo Torrico, Head of the Finance Committee and member of the Movement for Socialism (MAS) ruling party, and goes against Bolivian law which currently allows gambling in the country under Article 299 of the Constitución Política del Estado.

Fellow party member and spokesman for MAS, Jorge Silva, who has strongly opposed the bill, said earlier this week that any new legislation to prohibit gambling would not be discussed in Congress until 2010, when a new Legislative Assembly is formed after the country's elections take place on December 6th.

"There are various laws which need to be discussed by the new Legislative Assembly. It is preferable that the proposal by Mr. Torrico is not even mentioned as there is no possibility for it to be approved, as the current Congress is about to conclude its activities and I am afraid that this bill cannot be reviewed let alone put on the agenda."

In order for Bolivian law to be changed, Mr Silva said that a referendum would need to be held in the new Legislative Assembly, with two-thirds voting in favour. It appears now however that the bill may in fact have been presented and approved by the Lower House.

"We are sure that although this project has been put on the agenda again, it will not be supported by Congress as it in not in compliance with the Constitution which does allow for gaming," said Silva following Thursday's developments.

Elections in Bolivia will take place on December 6th with seven candidates expected to run against incumbent President Evo Morales, leader of the Movement for Socialism (MAS) party since 2006. President Morales is expected to comfortably win re-election.

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