The owner of one of Mexico’s biggest gaming companies has claimed that ex-President of Mexico, Felipe Calderón is responsible for a sustained and unjustified attack on the gaming industry. Owner of Caliente, which runs a number of racing tracks in Mexico and sports betting shops, Jorge Hank Rohn said that lawmakers were using the Casino Royale tragedy as a platform from which they can demonise the industry in Mexico.
In August 2011 gang members set fire to a casino in the north eastern state of Nuevo Leon. The casino, located in an affluent part of Mexico’s third-largest city Monterrey, was busy with mainly middle-class customers—most of them women. According to witnesses, the gunmen burst into the casino, doused it with gasoline and ordered everyone out. 52 people died in the ensuing tragedy.
Speaking in Monterrey, which is currently marking two years since the tragedy struck, Rohn aimed his comments at Felipe Calderón and his party. Calderón is a member of the Partido Acción Nacional (PAN), one of the three major political parties in Mexico.
According to Rohn the attack on the Casino Royale provided a good opportunity “which Calderon made the most of to launch a campaign against casinos. It was unfortunate as can happen anywhere and he made the most of it to demonise the entertainment and betting business.”
According to Rhon the attack on the Casino Royale in Monterrey should be seen as an isolated battle between casino owners rather than an indicator of the gaming industry in Mexico as a whole. “This was a fight between owners which developed here in Monterrey,” he said “and which unfortunately has had a repercussions in the whole country . . .”
Mr Rhon’s comments come at a time when the Mexican gaming industry is coming under increasing scrutiny from the government and major changes on the way look increasingly likely. The Minister of Interior (SEGOB) has announced it will work closely with a special investigative committee to analyse possible changes to Mexico’s gaming laws. In August Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong agreed to assist and work closely with the committee in order to investigate those casinos operating illegally in Mexico and help develop a new gaming act.