Congresswoman Nineth Montenegro has urged lawmakers to approve legislation, which would regulate betting in casinos, video lotteries and bingo halls.
The request comes amid growing concerns that the unregulated industry is being used for money laundering.
Back in June, the Intendencia de Verificación Especial (IVE), the nation’s financial intelligence unit, sent an official letter to the president of the Guatemalan Congress, requesting the introduction of new legislation to regulate the gaming sector.
However, the government has taken no action on the issue since the document was released.
According Montenegro, gaming laws should be discussed as a matter of urgency given the government’s international commitments and agreements to act against money laundering and terrorist financing.
“There are strong indications that [casinos]are sources of money laundering,” Montenegro stated.
Although forbidden by article 477 of the Penal Code, Guatemalan slot parlours, known locally as “video loterías”, often operate under licenses granted via administrative decisions made by members of the Interior Ministry, in spite of a 2006 ruling by the ministry that such licenses should be revoked.
Such venues can be large scale and frequently also host table games.
While there are no official statistics it is believed that the unregulated gaming industry could be worth over $200m a year.
The need to update country’s gaming legislation is not a new issue, but the last attempt to regulate the gaming was shelved in 2013 despite having received a favourable recommendation by the Commission of Economy, Trade and Government.