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Mexico – Court rules in favour of Tsar of Casinos

By - 18 August 2014

The Sixteenth District Court for Administrative Matters in the Federal District has declared illegal the revocation of EMEX’s casinos licence owned by Juan Jose Rojas Cardona, the so called Tsars of Casinos.

In April, Mexico’s gaming regulatory body SEGOB (The Interior Ministry) revoked the federal permit that had allowed Juan Jose Rojas Cardona, to operate up to 50 gaming centres in the country. The Interior Ministry stated that the company failed to legally establish it operations and operated outside the terms of its licence after a gaming permit was issued to the company during the administration of President Vicente Fox in 2005. Its licence was valid until May 24, 2030.

However, Judge Ricardo Gallardo Vara has granted an injunction against the judgement, through which the permission granted in 2005 to operate up to 50 casinos for 25 years was reversed.

According to the judge’s statements, the decision to revoke the licences was based on a mere technicality and stemmed from the irregular operation of a single casino. In this case the Sportzone located in the town of San Juan del Rio in the state of Queretaro.

In the initial decision, which revoked the licence and was delivered on 1 April by the Court of the Federal Judiciary, the court considered Emex had no municipal permit to operate the casino, because the authorisation was signed only by the Secretary of Finance – an official who is not part of the gaming control board within the Interior Ministry. The Court of the Federal Judiciary therefore ruled that the Secretary of Finance lacked the authority to issue a gaming permit and determined the revocation of the permit.

But In a complex ruling district judge Ricardo Gallardo Vara overruled the decision and argued that the Finance Secretary could indeed provide authorization to operate the casino if he took the Rules of Public Entertainment in the town of San Juan del Rio Querétaro into account when a facility is licensed or authorized by the council.

Court stays of closure and operator’s ability to reverse court decisions when it comes to revoking licences is one of the main driving forces for the new gaming act which could be up for debate in September this year. Operators have consistently been appeal to turn to courts to counteract measures put in place by the Interior Ministry. In April last year a powerful cross party committee was convened to look into the industry. Headed by Ricardo Mejía Berdeja its remit has been to investigate how licences were handed out in the past under the previous administration and to make recommendations as to how Mexico’s gaming laws could be changed in order to more fully regulate a sector which has seen a rapid proliferation in recent years.

Although there is absolutely no evidence of any kind of wrong doing in this case the committee has already heard that the large number of casinos which have been able to remain open points to collusion when it comes to local judges and the gaming industry in the past.

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