Popular tourist destinations in Mexico such as Cancun, Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta could see hotels with slot parlours on their premises if a new project is given the green light by lawmakers.
The new initiative has been put forward by the Mexican Gaming Association (AIEJA) and would allow for 20 to 30 slot machines to be housed in hotel lobbies or dedicated gaming spaces in hotels.
Speaking to local press, President of the AIEJA Miguel Angel Ochoa said that in some cases the slot parlours would be funded jointly by hotel owners and gaming licence holders while in other cases the hotel would rent the slot machines from a second party having been granted a licence by the government. The new proposals would imitate the Las Vegas model to a degree as slot parlours in hotels would also be allowed to house restaurants, bars and offer live shows.
The president of the Mexican Association of Hotels and Motels (AMHM), Armando de la Cruz Uribe Valle, has also not ruled out the possibility that casinos would be part of a larger tourist complex which would be located in emerging tourist destinations in Mexico such as the beach resorts of Ixtapa and Huatulco.
Casinos were first prohibited by President Lazaro Cardenas in 1936 and then along with most other types of gaming (except lotteries and bingos) were permanently banned in the Betting and Raffles Law of 1947. Since then there have been numerous attempts to overturn the act and allow casino type gaming.
For some years there has been talk of allowing Las Vegas style gaming in Mexico and before 2008 the vast majority of casino legislation revolved around allowing Las Vegas style gaming in five star hotels and only in tourist hotspots. By so doing it was estimated that ten Las Vegas style casinos in places such as Tijuana, Ensenada, Acapulco and Cancun could have attracted an estimated initial investment of $3bn and generated $800m in taxes. However, since 2008 the impetus to overhaul gaming legislation has come not come so much from a desire to increase tourist numbers but out of concern for the proliferation of gaming parlours, bingo halls and sports books nationwide.
The new proposals are far less ambitious as they would allow only for mini casinos on hotel premises but could well be taken into account later on this year while the government addresses the issue. It is becoming increasingly likely that 2014 could be a key year for the industry with growing calls for a new gaming law which could be debated as early as February this year.