Panama welcomes gamblers whatever their allegiance. There are complete casinos with games such as roulette, black jack, baccarat, craps and poker; slot machine casinos; bingo halls; horse-racing with parimutuel betting at the President Remon Racetrack; betting agencies for sporting events and a national lottery. Panama City naturally offers more opportunities for gambling but other cities have plenty to offer.
Casino gambling is probably most attractive to visitors. There are eight complete casinos in Panama City, six outside the capital. Those in the city are to be found at the hotels, El Panama, Veneto, Marriot, Sheraton, Continental, Granada, Soloy and the Majestic beside the Multicentro Mall on Avenida Balboa.
In David they are situated in the Hotels Nacional and Mirage, in Colon at the hotels Washington and Melia, in Farallon at the Decameron Hotel and in Chitre at the Hotel Guayacanes.
There are 29 slot machine casinos in the country, 17 of which are in Panama City and the rest scattered throughout the country.
Winnings are taxed directly at source at the rate of 7% for all purses over $300.
While casinos are owned by private enterprise, all gambling in Panama is controlled by the government's Gaming Commission( Junto de Control de Juegos).
National Lottery and Bingo
The national Lottery is played twice weekly, on Wednesdays and Sundays. Tickets are sold from little wooden stands all over town. Four digit tickets cost $1.00. First prize number pays $2,000.00 per ticket, second prize $600 and third prize $300. There are a number of other prizes such as $50 for the first three or the last three digits and $1.00 for the last digit of the winning number. For other winning combinations consult the National Lottery website at www.lnb.gob.pa
There are other variations of the Lottery:
El Gordito del Zodiaco plays on the last Friday of every month. First prize pays $4,000 per ticket.
The Extraordinaria plays 3 times a year in April, August and December. Tickets cost $2.00 each. First prize is $20,000 per ticket, second $8,000 and third $3,000
Bingo 90 on Calle 57 in Obarrio, is probably the most popular Bingo location in Panama. It has a large Bingo salon, a slot machine casino, restaurant and bar.
Panama Horse Racing Tracks
Panama City's President Remon Racetrack in the Juan Diaz suburb offers racing Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. On Thursdays they start at 5.45 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays at 2.10 p.m. Closing time depends on the number of scheduled races.
The President Remon Racetrack uses the parimutuel betting system which was invented by Parisian perfume maker, Joseph Oller in 1865 when asked by a bookmaker friend to devise a fair system for bettors which would guarantee a fixed profit for the bookmaker.
Using this system, there may be several different types of bets, in which case each type of bet has its own pool. The basic bets involve predicting the order of finish for a single participant. For example, Win – to succeed the bettor must pick the horse which wins the race. Place – the bettor must pick a horse which finishes either first, second or sometimes third (depending if there is a third dividend). Show – the bettor must pick a horse which finishes first, second or third. Exactor – the bettor must pick the two horses which finish first and second, in the right order. Quiniela – the bettor must pick the two horses which finish first and second, but need not specify which will finish first. Triactor – the bettor must pick the three horses which finish first, second , and third, in the right order.
Turff Bet and Sports Bars
The President Remon Racetrack operates three Turff Bet and Sports Bars, two at the racetrack and one on Via Espana in Panama City. A total of 100 TV screens broadcast races from the best tracks on the New York, California and Kentucky circuits and international classics as well. Popular sports around the world are also featured. The Turff bars are open from 11 am to 3 am and offer a good executive menu and a Happy Hour every day from 5pm to 8 pm.