Panama is one of the competitive economies in Central America. Its major revenue comes from the service industry such as banking, commerce, and tourism. The canal tolls also contribute a sizable percentage of the country’s GDP. Gambling in Panama is legalized and regulated and contributes a sizable portion to the country’s annual GDP although not to such a big percentage as the revenue contributed through the other aforementioned service industry sectors.
The citizens and also the visiting tourists have an option of participating in Casino games offered at the various places across the country. The country’s major cities are dotted with different gambling facilities which offer diverse gambling services such as bingo and poker games.
Types of Legal and Illegal Gambling in Panama
Most gambling types in Panama are legal. The different gambling activities and operations in Panama are regulated and licensed by the Junta de Control de Juegos. The body has licensed over 35 casinos, several bingo gaming halls, and horse racing games. The country has also legalized land-based sportsbooks where players can wager on different sports.
Stance on Offline Gambling
Panama has adopted an open approach to land-based gambling. The lax approach to gambling regulations has seen the growth of various landed gambling businesses. The legal age for those who would wish to participate in gambling activities is set at 18.
The different gambling types which have been captured by the Panama gambling Decree include; the wagering activities, bets, and games of chance. The different land-based games which have been legalized in the country include the slot machines, roulette, blackjack and many other conventional land-based gambling operations.
Stance on Online Gambling
Panama regulations do not prohibit most of the online gambling activities. Players based in Panama have an option of either participating in sites which are owned by Panamanian companies or choose the offshore companies which do not operate within the country. The different online gambling games offered include online casino games, online poker games, and virtual Roulette games.
All the online gambling activities are regulated by the Junta de Control de Juegos. This regulatory body screens applicants, issues licenses and ensures that all the gambling operators play by the rules and comply with the applicable laws. The body also has the authority to impose penalties on the gambling companies which do not uphold the legal requirements stipulated in the law. These penalties range from fines, revocation of operating licenses and even jail terms for those found guilty.
Stance on Cryptocurrency and Bitcoin Gambling
There are two puzzling issues which always arise whenever issues to do with the legality of cryptocurrency gambling are discussed. One of these issues is the question of whether online gambling is allowed in the country in question. The other issue is the legality of the cryptocurrency in the country where such cryptocurrency gambling operations are undertaken.
In the case of Panama, online gambling is legalized and thus not prohibited. Since cryptocurrency gambling is one of the forms of online gambling then it implies that cryptocurrency gambling is also legal as long as there are no specific laws which prohibit cryptocurrency gambling. On the question of the legality of the virtual currency, Panama has not adopted any hard stance on cryptocurrencies. Thus its citizens have the option of transacting and trading in cryptocurrencies including the use of such virtual currencies to engage in cryptocurrency gambling.
Regulatory Authorities and Important Laws
- The National Lottery Board: This is a government-controlled monopoly which is responsible for organizing and running national lotteries.
- Gaming Control Board: This board runs its activities under the oversight control of the Ministry of Finance. The board controls the licensing of private entities which wish to carry out gambling operations within Panama. It also regulates and fosters good relations among all the other gambling authority bodies such as the national lottery board.
- Gambling Decree-This decree has clauses which define the different types of gambling, stipulate the compliance requirements of the gambling entities and sets out the mechanism for the establishment of gambling control and regulatory bodies.
- Anti-money laundering legislation: These laws have been put in place to prevent money laundering schemes. Under this law, casinos and other gambling houses are required to maintain a record of all their customers and report any suspicious laundering activities to the necessary authorities. Failing to abide by these laws makes these gambling operators be at loggerheads with the law. If found guilty, these companies face the risk of having their licenses revoked, receiving heavy fine penalties, and even imprisonment of the personnel and the company owners who are found guilty.
The Republic of Panama has an open stance on most gambling activities within its jurisdiction. The licensing and compliance requirements for applicants who seek to be given operating licenses are also relatively relaxed. This positive gambling environment is, therefore, favorable for both the players and the gambling operators who would wish to establish their operations in Panama.