According to the latest report from the Comptroller General's Office, revenue fell in 7 out of 10 months, with a total balance of US1.8 B, which marks a 3.5% decrease compared to the same period last year.
The biggest decrease is registered in table games, which by law can only be operated in resort casinos with more than 300 rooms. In this segment, bets registered a 28.2% fall (US109.8 m). until October.
Yelitza Amador, executive secretary of the Panamanian Association on Games of Chance (Apojuegos), believes the two factors affecting gambling are a reduction in tourist inflow, and the 2015 5.5% tax on gambling.
The tax, created to finance welfare for retired citizens of the country, has received heavy criticism from industry operators since players receive deductions regardless of whether they win or lose.
Out of the total wagered until October, USD1.5 m were paid in prizes, subtracting 338 million dollars that do not include the payment of taxes and other expenses.
Amador pointed out that the fall in gambling revenue will be accentuated every day, due to a marked reduction in overall purchasing power. "Historically, October is one of the best months of the year in terms of betting, but now the trend has changed, and the authorities apparently do not care about our industry, which contributes millions of dollars to the economy," he said, according to statements quoted by the local newspaper La Prensa.
The national gambling industry already records 6,500 jobs lost in the last three years, and operators have not ruled out that this figure increases before the end of the year if the current trend does not shift.