Capital: Panama City
Currency: Panamanian Balboa (PAB) and United States Dollar ($)
Time Zone: UTC-5
Casinos with Poker
- Sortis Hotel, Spa & Casino
- Ocean Sun Casino
- Majestic Casino
- Veneto Grand Hotel Casino (closed)
Panama, much like its neighboring Costa Rica, is a very popular site of choice for gambling companies. Quite a few of them are headquartered there, the most famous of them all is perhaps Betonline.ag.
This is because not only is land based and online gambling fully legal, the local government actually does a lot to encourage investment into that sector. This has a long history from the 20th Century when the local government would actually run casinos. The local banking industry is also in support of gambling.
Also helpful for these – often foreign-owned – companies is that Panama adopted the US dollar as an official currency, together with their Panamanian Balboa, all the way back in 1904 – the year when the construction of the famous Panama Canal was taken over by the United States government.
Licenced and regulated online gambling has a shorter, but successful history in the country – Panama passed the bill to create the framework for that in 2002. The Online Gaming Act was passed by the Panama National Assembly that year.
As for land casinos, worldcasinodirectory.com lists 57 casinos across the small Central American nation – not bad for a population of around 4 million.
In an environment like that, there’s no obstacle for poker to thrive. Panama has hosted major poker festivals such as the PokerStars Championship Panama, the Latin American Poker Tour, and the Panamá Poker Open Series.
Famous Panamanian Poker Players
Bolivar Palacios sits on top of Panama’s all time money list on Hendon. He’s cashed for over $1.060 million. His biggest score is $450,000, which he got for coming in 6th in the $10K Main Event at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in January 2011. He also has an impressive 3 ITM finishes from the WSOP Main Event, from 2009, 2011, and 2012.
Palacios is also a prolific online MTT grinder. He has $1.6 million in online tournament cashes, most of which comes playing on PokerStars under the screen name “Ramux”.
Jose Severino has $770,000 in live cashes. He’s second on Hendon’s list behind Palacios. In October 2007, he won the $1,650 No Limit Hold’em event for $101,500 at the Aruba Poker Tournament Series. That is the biggest single live tournament cash of his career to date. In 2020, when the Coronavirus crisis forced all the WSOP events to be played online, he managed to make it into the money an impressive 19 times.
– Playing Live Poker in Panama –
Live Poker Legislation in Panama
As we mentioned in our intro, internet gambling was legalized in the country with the passing of the Online Gaming Act of 2002. Land based gambling has been legal for as long as it could, since Panama’s independence in 1903.
Licencing and regulation are under the purview of the Junta de Control de Juegos (Gaming Control Board). They issue 7-year licences that cost $40,000 to obtain with $20,000 additional annual fee, according to CalvinAyre.com’s findings.
Live Poker Venues in Panama
The Sortis Hotel, Spa & Casino in the capital city of Panama City has been the home to such great poker festivals as the PokerStars Championship Panama in 2017 and the Latin American Poker Tour in 2016. Their year-round poker room is called Sortis Jackie’s Room.
If you’re looking for some cash game action, the Ocean Sun Casino, located inside the Trump Tower also in Panama City, may be the place for you. There, you can play $1/$2 or $5/$5 No Limit Hold’em, as well as $1/$1 Pot Limit Omaha cash.
In Panama City, there’s also a running poker room in the Majestic Casino. The Veneto Grand Hotel Casino sadly closed down in 2018. Outside Panama City, however, you’ll have a tough time finding action.
– Casinos and Poker Rooms in Panama –
Sortis Hotel, Spa & Casino
Ocean Sun Casino
Online Poker Legislation in Panama
We’ve talked about how popular Panama is with online gambling operators. We’ve also mentioned the Online Gaming Act of 2002 multiple times.
In an environment like that, it’s no surprise that virtually none of the major online poker rooms – PokerStars, partypoker, Natural8, 888 – restrict players from the region. One of the rare exceptions is the Ipoker Network’s Guts.
Betonline.ag’s poker skin is part of the Chico Network (which is perhaps best known for Tigergaming). Betonline.ag is headquartered in Panama City, as we mentioned in our intro.