According to Eric Ríos, the Executive Secretary of the Panamanian Gaming Control Board (JCJ), gaming tax revenues are maintaining their momentum and by the end of this year will reach US$82 million, which is similar from last year’s numbers, according to a G3 Newswire report.

The state has also benefitted from the 5.5 percent tax that was recently imposed on bets, which added US$45.76 million more to the state’s coffers. The new tax applies to every cash withdrawal transaction in casinos, bingo halls, slot parlors, tracks, and sports betting shops. The tax, which was approved in 2015 to fund the bulk of the resources needed to increase pensions, is also applicable to the tips received by employees. Regardless if a customer cashes their chips in and hasn’t won, the tax will still be deducted.

During his speech at a meeting with Dulcidio De La Guardia, the Minister of Economy and Finance, Ríos outlined some of the upcoming projects planned by the JCJ, as well as some of its most recent achievements. The most notable of the gaming board’s achievements, Ríos said, was the shuttering of slot parlors in poorer areas and subsequent decrease in type C machines. The growing number of the establishments in economically disadvantaged areas has been increasingly concerning and more reports of late have indicated that the government is prepared to deal with the issue.

Also pointed out by Ríos, was the issuance of full-fledged casino licenses to the Panamanian province of Herrera’s capital, Chitré, and Panama City. He said that the casinos, which will be located in hotels, will help to create jobs. Ríos’ wrapped up his speech with the fact that soon a server controlled by the central government will monitor all slot machine transactions in real time and map the exact location and the time of every gaming transaction that takes place in the country situated between North and South America.

Meanwhile, yesterday the Panamanian Gaming Control Board approved the merger of South African hotel and casino operator, Johannesburg-based Sun International, and Dreams, its Chilean counterpart.