Slot parlors are growing out of control in Panama, especially in lower income neighborhoods so consultation has begun in the government to draft a law to restructure the Gaming Control Board to address the issue.
Commission of Economy and Finance deputies believe that lower income communities need some form of protection as the proliferation of gaming machines in poorer neighborhoods has negatively affected the population’s health.
The Gaming Control Board considers Type C machines, those located near impoverished areas with payouts limited to $200, to be the main cause of pathological gambling behavior in the country.
According to a report on G3 Newswire, Antonio Alfaro – president of the Association of Managers of Gaming, says the problem is not casinos located in hotels and that the number of slot parlors should be limited with restrictions on how close they may be located to medical facilities, churches, and schools. The association has submitted a draft law that would let gamblers self-exclude, and be excluded from Panamanian casinos. One proposal being considered is limiting the total number of machines in parlors to 50 per establishment.
Five star hotels with a minimum of 300 rooms have been allowed to host casinos in Panama since the 1997 gambling law privatizing casinos was passed. According to a G3 Newswire article, there are now about 5,400 slot machines in casinos and some 7,300 to be found in slot parlors. Revenue has grown about 20% from US$80.1 million in 2013 to US$96.1 million in 2014. Last year the the government generated over US$11 million in tax revenue from the slot parlors.