The gaming industry in Panama generated over $128m (E113.7m) in state revenue last year, a senior government official has claimed.
Chief of the country’s Gaming Control Board Erick Rios said that the figure represents an improvement of just over a third on the 2014 – and was derived from the operation of 23 casinos and 100 gaming halls in-country.
The major improvement was primarily due to a new 5.5 per cent blanket tax placed on wagering activity – introduced early last year. A detailed breakdown of the country’s finances shows that gaming establishments paid $82.2m (E73m) in direct contributions to the state coffer last year, whilst the new wagering boosted this figure by an additional $45.8m (E40.7m).
Preliminary numbers for the first quarter of 2016 were less encouraging, however: standing at a net total of $27m (E24m), approximately $1m less than the Q1 2015 haul.
All tax revenue gleaned from gaining activity in Panama is channeled directly into a special account, to be used by a number of investment programs benefiting public-facing government services.
Rios said that the government would direct some of the cash towards a new educational program which will teach Panamanian children that gambling is a pastime with is done “for fun, for entertainment, such that when they are adults and want to go to a gaming hall they do so responsibly.”