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Guatemala – Guatemala to create new Gaming Control Board

By - 26 September 2013

The Guatemalan government is looking at setting up a new Gaming Control Board, which would regulate the growing gaming industry in Guatemala.

The Economic Committee of Congress is looking at ways to regulate lotteries, bingo halls and casinos and the new gaming control board would, according to the findings of the committee, be the best way to control an industry which has rapidly spiralled out of control of late.

The committee is currently looking at a new law, which would regulate gaming called the “Law for the Control of Bingos, Lotteries Casinos and Gaming” and this week debate has focused on whether the Guatemalan tax Authority would be the right body to control the industry. However according to local news portal Sigo21 is believed that the committee has found that a gaming control board would be more efficient in collecting taxes, and prevent illicit activities such as money laundering and organised crime.

Although gaming is expressly forbidden by article 477 of the Penal Code which puts in place heavy fines and prison terms for those found to be operating casinos or slot parlours, gaming has proliferated widely throughout Guatemala and slot parlours have grown largely unchecked and have, as a consequence, been infiltrated by organised crime. Known widely as “video loterías” (video lotteries) slot parlours in Guatemala also in a great many cases house table games and can be large scale.

This is the latest in a number of attempts to regulate the industry and proposals to pass a new gaming law were initially put forward in May 2013. While there are no official statistics it is believed that the illegal gaming industry could be worth over US$120m a year and while there have been a number of attempts to crackdown on the industry they have so far proved ineffective.

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