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Panama – Panama lottery will not be privatised

By - 10 August 2016

Efrain Medina the Director General of the Lotería Nacional de Beneficencia de Panamá (The National Charity Lottery of Panama) has denied reports that a new draft bill currently under development is seeking to privatise the lottery.

Instead he pointed out that the bill guarantees the role of the state in the running of lotteries and aims to increase the sales commission earned by lottery vendors from 10 to 12 per cent.

“To talk about the privatisation of the institution is irresponsible and shows a total ignorance of the bill, because what it is looking to do is strengthen the institutional and social role of the National Lottery,” he said adding that the new bill was a response to both the needs of lottery customers and vendors.

Medina’s statements come after erroneous reports surfaced in local media and via social networks saying that that the draft of the new bill sought to privatise the lottery.

Asked about the progress of the draft, Medina said that later this month, a final revision will be made to the bill by the members of the board, to clarify any doubts that may still exist. The contents of the proposal were endorsed by 16 organisations, including a number of lottery vendor unions and cooperatives across the country that also made a number of their own contributions to the draft bill, at a meeting in October 2015.

On completion of the approval stage by the board, the document will go to the Ministry of Economy and Finance, then the Cabinet Council before finally being presented to the National Assembly, where it will become law.

Currently, the National Lottery of Panama operates traditional draw-based lottery games through a network of 13,500 lottery vendors but the law which governs the lottery has not been changed since 1969 and is in urgent need of modernisation. The new law aims to improve the living standard of lottery vendors by raising the commission on tickets, provide guarantees to players and puts fines in place for non compliance with the new rules. It also seeks to ensure that those who are granted permission to sell tickets are those who are in the most need.

Lotteries have existed in Panama since 1872 when the first lottery was established to benefit the education system. The Loteria Nacional de Beneficencia was founded in 1914 and the profits were initially used to cover the cost of the maintenance of the public hospitals in Panama. Today proceeds are destined for government sponsored social welfare programmes.

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