Located in the Caribbean Sea, Panama is one of the largest off-shore centers for banking and gambling activities. It’s a sovereign nation and it has no information sharing agreements with other countries. In practice this means that if there is an investigation regarding your tax matters, Panama will not release any information and it has every right to do so.
The law system in Panama is made according the Spanish Civil Law, but all aspects of the laws and regulations are made by the Panama officials. Being sovereign nation means that there is no influence from foreign countries in the process of deriving new policies or abolishing present ones.
The regulator of gambling and gaming activities is the Panama Gaming Control Board. It exists since 1947 and it taxes the casinos’ profits with an 80% tax rate. Relatively recent changes were done in the 2002 when internet gaming regulations were imposed and this allowed the willing entities to apply for online casino license. What is very intriguing is that Panama does not tax any profits that the online casinos will make from wagers that come from abroad. They are completely tax free, no withholding tax, no VAT. Licenses that are available to the willing entities are:
- Annual License. It costs $20,000 and as the name says it lasts for one whole year. After expiration the entity can reapply for the same license or for another one of the available licenses.
- Master License. Entities that are holders of the master license can grant sub-licenses. Of course they bear the costs for whatever the license may be, for example the annual license will still cost $20,000.
- Regular License. The regular license lasts up to 7 years and after that the entity can also reapply for an extension, or a new license. It costs $40,000.
- Class 4. This one is special and it allows the licensee to host and govern remote gaming operators, but the licensee itself cannot operate as an operator. This license is mainly for software vendors.
One of a kind conditions
The tax free regime is the key reason why it is a so appealing location for registering of a casino. It is obvious that most of the wagers will come from abroad which in practice provides the license holder to operate in a tax free environment. However, all wagers that come from Panama are subject to the 80% tax rate. With the increasing popularity of online gambling Panama is getting a lot of interest by willing casino owners.