The decision to transfer control over the Nicaraguan gaming industry from of the Ministry of Tourism and put gaming under the control of the Ministry of Finance and the Financial Analysis Unit (UAF) has been greeted positively by legislators.
The decision to separate casinos and gambling halls from the control of the Nicaraguan Institute of Tourism (Intur) was considered a good measure by Liberal MP Wilfredo Navarro, third secretary of the Board of the National Assembly, who stated that several Latin American countries are taking similar measures and placing the industry under the control of the Finance Ministry. The lawmaker said that change was necessary as in Peru, Panama and other Latin American countries, the institutions that are in charge of gaming are similar or equivalent to Nicaragua’s Ministry of Finance.
In the future Mr. Navarro said that the new measures will allow the government to more closely track changes in the industry. Speaking to local press Mr. Navarro went on to say that the Ministry of Tourism had been ill equipped to regulate the industry and that the Financial Analysis Unit, which is responsible for combating money laundering, along with the Tax Department of Nicaragua (DGI) and police forces will have a direct impact on ensuring that the industry is more transparent .
However, Congressman Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, President of the Tourism Commission in the National Assembly, said he hoped that the reform did not reduce the money generated by gaming which is used by the Ministry of Tourism to promote tourism. Mr. Chamorro argued that once gaming is taken out of control from the Ministry of Tourism it will lose around US$952,600 per year it receives in annual fees for regulating the industry.
Changes to Nicaragua’s gaming laws, which were first passed in 2011, are necessary according to the government due to the fast rise of gaming in the country. Describing the gaming industry as an increasingly lucrative business, it was decided that the most appropriate institution to regulate the activity was the Ministry of Finance. The reforms also create a new “Casino Control Council” which together with the Ministry of Finance will be responsible for regulating all matters related to gaming in the future.