Published: September 11, 2023, 07:11h.
Last updated: September 11, 2023, 07:11h.
The gaming industry in the Dominican Republic (DR) is experiencing a surge despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The market is bouncing back in this Caribbean country, and revenue is showing improvement.
According to statistics from the General Directorate of Internal Taxes (DGII), gambling revenue has grown by 6.5% in the first half of this year compared to the same period in 2022. Despite a modest increase, the rise from DOP2.03 billion to DOP$2.16 billion (US$35 million to $37 million) is a noteworthy achievement.
The DGII’s data also shows that tax revenue has seen a significant increase of 35.4% between 2015 and 2022. Over the span of seven years, the DR has witnessed its gambling industry’s tax revenue climb from DOP2.58 billion (US$43.3 million) to DOP3.5 billion (US$61.46 million).
The Success of Sports Betting Banks
Sports betting banks have reported the highest revenue. In 2022, this segment generated an impressive revenue of DOP1.42 billion (US$24.8 million), up from DOP1.2 billion (US$21 million) in 2015.
This growth of 17.9% can be partly attributed to the increase in the sales tax on sports betting banks, which has risen by 24% since 2015, reaching US$5 million from US$4.1 million.
If the same pace of betting continues in the second half of the year, the total revenue for 2023 is projected to reach DOP4.21 billion (US$74 million). This represents a 21% increase compared to the DOP3.64 billion (US$64 million) generated last year.
The lottery and other prizes, slot machines, and telephone games (sweepstakes via mobile phones, usually involving text messages) have experienced the most significant growth in the past seven years, with returns of 93%, 49%, and 33.7%, respectively.
This growth is notable considering the decline these segments faced in previous years. In 2017, the segment witnessed a decline of 54.1% in its market share.
2020 was the year with the lowest revenue due to the impact of COVID-19 on the global gaming industry, with a figure of DOP1.86 billion (US$32 million). In 2019, when at least 13 tourists died in the country, revenue dropped by 38.4% to DOP3.03 billion (US$52 million). However, in 2021, the industry started to rebound, reaching DOP2.8 billion (US$50 million).
Making Strides in Market Regulation
The primary catalyst behind the improved revenue collection is the transition of sports betting operators in the DR, which began last year. Previously, the segment had little to no regulation.
In 2021, the DR announced changes and started preparations for this transition. Operators were required to apply for permits, with the deadline initially set for April and then pushed to May of last year. However, due to delays, regulators began taking action in October 2022. Betting operators who had not submitted the necessary paperwork to join the regulated space were forced to close. Although some unlicensed operators still exist, the enhanced oversight of the segment will contribute to the ongoing increase in gaming revenue in the DR.