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Kevin Smith

Panama Passes I-Gaming Regulations

29 October 2002

Although an official announcement hasn't been made, IGN has learned that Panama just passed legislation enabling the regulation of interactive gambling services.

The passing of the regulations came a month after the target date of Sept. 25. According to one industry insider, the delay was due in part to the Gaming Control Board's close scrutiny on how to best regulate the industry. He added that the new policy will likely make Panama one of the world's most sought after I-gaming jurisdictions.

Dai Leon is chairman and CEO of PanaNexus Corp., a consulting firm that specializes in working with interactive gaming operators. He said regulators tweaked some of the regulations over the last couple of weeks, but the general principles remain in tact.

The changes, he said, only added to the viability of Panama as an I-gaming jurisdiction.

"I still think Panama is going to become the leading jurisdiction in the world," he said. "If anything, the regulations that made it through final passage probably strengthen that effort."

Among amendments was a clause that increases the amount of due diligence to be done on applicants.

Policymakers also struck a clause calling for an official "consulting" firm to aid new licensees in the processes of securing licenses and setting up their businesses in Panama.

Instead, Leon said, potential operators will be asked to provide a "feasibility study" to regulators, outlining who they will partner with while doing business in Panama. Officials will then decide whether those partners meet their standards or whether operators need to seek other vendors and partners.

"[The policy] will give the Gaming Control Board a little more leeway in who is doing business in Panama," Leon explained.

The original regulations called for the granting of one master license, but regulators opted instead to go with a handful of "consultancy" firms that would be approved by the commission and work with new operators setting up in Panama.

Leon said companies from Icahn Gaming and Steve Wynn Resorts have expressed interest Panama as a base for their interactive gaming operations. He added that Panama will heavily target operators within the Native American gaming community.

"I have been talking to tribes for years," he said. "I am tied in with the tribes and I think that is a definite thing at this point. Ernie Stevens, the head of NIGA (National Indian Gaming Association), is very behind what we are doing down in Panama."

He added that PanaNexus has opened a satellite office in Los Angeles to deal specifically with the needs and regulations of Native American tribes. He predicts the Native American sector will be the first to "heat up" in Panama.

IGN will post a copy of the new policy when an English version is made available.

Panama Passes I-Gaming Regulations is republished from
Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith