There weren't armed men in masks holding me up on the sidewalk in Panama City.
(I've been coming here for 13 years and have never once felt unsafe…)
It was at the cashier's cage at the Veneto Casino.
After a few hours with a friend at the roulette table where I was happy to have walked away at breakeven, I was shocked to find out that the government of Panama takes a 5.5% tax when you cash in your chips.
Most of these people have no idea what they're talking about. This casino tax is one of Panama's many taxes.
They have transfer taxes and dividend taxes and stamp taxes and individual income taxes.
Most ironically, the Panamanian corporate tax rate is 25%.
That's higher than socialist DENMARK, as well as the United Kingdom (which is supposedly leading the charge against global tax havens.)
In other words, if you cash in $100 in chips, you receive $94.50 back.
I had no idea. And I was furious.
This really drives home a major misconception about Panama. The country is being paraded around the mainstream media right now, with protestors ignorantly mocking Panama's 'zero-tax' regime.