aming revenue amounted to USD 1,998 M between January and November 2018, showing a 3.5% drop compared to the same period in 2017.
November figures show seven consecutive months of decline for Panama’s gambling industry. Operators’ trade associations such as Panama’s Gaming Association –Apojuegos in Spanish– blame the 5.5% tax levied by the state to finance an increase in pension plans.
Players must pay the tax on winning or losing bets when receiving the prize or at the time they exchange the chips with the cashier.
The sharpest decreased was experienced by table games, which can only be operated at integrated casinos located at hotels with more than 300 rooms. As of November, this type of gambling saw a 27.6% drop to USD 119.8 M, while “type A” slot machines were 1.5% down, amounting to USD 1,780 M in bets.
In light of the decline in the number of patrons, especially foreign ones, it is estimated that around seven thousand workers were made redundant at casinos, slot machine venues, bingo halls, and sportsbooks.
Last month, Panama president Juan Carlos Varela Rodríguez vetoed a new 5% tax on annual net profits from slot machines and betting centers at casinos and gaming venues throughout the nation. The proposed legislation –proyecto 621– had been approved by Panama’s legislative body –Asamblea Nacional– in November, and provided for the allocation of a portion of gaming revenue to pension plans.