Lawmakers in the Dominican Republic are pushing for the creation of a new gambling regulator, as the headline reform in an overhaul sparked by scandal.
Earlier this month, Ricky Nadal, the president of the National Association of Sports Banks, demanded that broad tax reforms for foreign and online gaming businesses be a part of the new regulations.
“It is not possible for national companies to be punished with high tax amounts, while every day the foreign invasion of webpages, mobile devices — which do not contribute anything to the Treasury — grows disproportionately … currently flat taxes represent a model that is as unfair as it is impractical.”
His comments come in the wake of his request for a seat at the negotiating table for a proposed new regulator, the General Directorate of Casinos, Lotteries, Concessions, Games, Raffles and Promotions.
The directorate would not be run by the government but by a council of public and private sector individuals with expertise in relevant fields, in the hopes of diminishing corruption. Its exact structure and function is still in nascent stages and is still the subject of debate.
The Dominican Republic’s tax scheme for gaming revolves around monthly fees charged to operators by geographic location and number of tables or gaming machines. A flat tax is also levied on gross revenue.
The country’s government began the process of regulating rampant private “bancas de loterias” or lottery banks, which often operated illegally, at the beginning of this year.
Lottery banks in the Dominican Republic are any establishment with gaming on offer and are often small stores.
According to the National Federation of Lottery Banks (Fenabanca), there are more than 100,000 lottery banks operating in the country, with an estimated 30 more opening every day.
The regulatory crackdown was ignited by a fraudulent lottery draw held on May 1 of last year by the former administrator of the National Lottery, with stolen ticket sales of $8.5m.
This February, the government passed Measure 63-22, which places lottery banks under the purview of regulatory bodies overseen by the Ministry of Finance. The creation of the directorate would follow on the back of this legislation.
The aforementioned regulatory bodies have yet to be created, and are a part of the mission of Measure 63-22 and other pending legislation on the table, including the creation of the directorate.
A consultative council has been formed to oversee their formation with representatives from the Ministry of Finance, the General Directorate of Internal Taxes, the Consultative Council of the National Lottery, the National Federation of Lottery Banks and the administrator of the National Lottery.
The Dominican Republic has a long history of linking its tourism industry to casinos and gambling, and has historically been a popular gaming vacation destination. Gambling in the country has been legal since 1999, while international e-gaming was introduced in 2011 on the back of Laws 139-11 and 494-06.