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Mexico – Casinos in tourist hotspots gaining ground in Mexican Senate

By - 20 August 2015

The casino sector in Mexico could attract investments of up to US$600m if the Senate approves provisions to Mexico’s new gaming law, which could be discussed during the next legislative session.

According to current plans, so called “Preferred Complexes” would be allotted in tourist hotspots that are on the Riviera Maya. These would be in the state of Quintana Roo, the town of Los Cabos in Baja California Sur, the Riviera Nayarit, on the border of Jalisco and Nayarit, and Puerto Penasco in the state of Sonora – zones which have already been agreed upon by the Ministry of Tourism.

Changes to Mexico’s gaming law may seek to replicate the Iberostar hotel in Mexico in that casinos would be part of much larger complexes which would offer casinos with approximately 150 gaming machines, shopping malls, restaurants, cinemas, theatres and shops in luxury destinations which are already popular and where tourist infrastructure is already well developed.

In April it was revealed that Iberostar would open a new Las Vegas casino in Mexico. Iberostar Hotels & Resorts reported that the casino would be located in the Iberostar Playa Paraiso hotel. Located on the beach between Cancun and Playa del Carmen, on the Riviera Maya, the Iberostar Paraiso Maya hotel is a 5-star all-inclusive accommodation.

According to a report in local press proposals which seek to set up casinos in special tourist zones already have the support of the Ministries of Finance and Administration and investors could open up as many as six to ten large scale casinos during the remainder of the administration of Enrique Peña Nieto which ends in around two years time. This could see a number of the biggest operators in the industry becoming involved in the market.

Earlier this week, former Secretary of Tourism, Oscar Espinoza Villarreal proposed allowing casinos as a way to promote tourism – a move which has been opposed by the local business community of Quintan Roo.

However, proposals are being met with some resistance. Pablo Azcarraga, Chairman of the National Tourist Business Council (CNET), has said that the initiative to reform the gaming act should be rejected and has called on local business leaders to put pressure on lawmakers so that new measures are not passed.

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