Luck and games of chance are a huge hit in Panama. Walking around the city you can find casinos, slot machines, lottery, bingo parlors, among other games of chance. It almost seems as if you were in mini Vegas. You can find casinos in quite a few of the local shopping malls too.
Actually gambling and games of chance represent a nice chunk of change for the government who just recently raised the tax rates for the gaming industry. According to the latest reports from the Gaming Commission (Junta de Control de Juegos) of the Ministry of Economics and Finance in Panama $4.7 million are gambled per day. Up to the end of September, the amount gambled in Panama reached $1.247 billion from which the government only receives close to 27 million. Those $1.2 billion come from slot machines, gaming tables, lottery, horse racing, bingo parlors and bets on sports events and do not include illegal bets. Statistics indicates that consumers prefer casinos, followed by lottery and then horse racing.
The total amount gambled increased by $98 million from 2008 to 2009, and in the last five years bets have doubled. In 2004 the total amount gambled was 534.8 million while in 2008 the amount rose to 1.108 million. This is such a huge business in Panama that the total amount gambled until end of September is far greater than the combined budget assigned to two of Panama´s largest and most important ministries: Health and Education.
Games of chance are a huge business in Panama and are included in the Tourism Master Plan to be developed by 2020 as a tourist attraction.
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