The number of casinos in Mexico is expected to double during the current six year Presidential term according to the President of the Mexican Gaming Association (AIEJA) Miguel Angel Ochoa.
Ochoa Sanchez told press that while the tragedy in the Casino Royale in 2011 had affected the growth of the industry there are currently 319 casinos in Mexico but there are permits for a total of 671. President Enrique Peña Nieto’s term in office will end in December 2018.
While Ochoa Sanchez admitted that the industry was still a controversial one in Mexico he stressed that it was “not as bad as people think as it it attracts domestic and foreign investment, tourism, generates tax for the Mexican government, and creates jobs.”
Ochoa Sanchez made the statements during the inauguration of the Institute for Research and Treatment of Pathological Gambling in the Muguerza hospital in Monterrey. The institute will offer free treatment to those who have developed a gambling addiction.
Ochoa Sanchez said that slot parlours and betting centres in Mexico receive three million annual visitors a year. With 21 casinos Monterrey ranks sixth place nationally, behind Baja California (43); Mexico City (33); Sonora (28); Jalisco (24) and the State of Mexico (24), he said.
The industry he said “provides 38 thousand direct jobs, nearly 140 thousand indirect jobs and there are 90 thousand legally established machines now in operation in Mexico, virtually all of which are imported from abroad as Mexico still is not producing machines,” he said.
Ochoa Sanchez did point out, however, that the tragedy in 2011 had affected the industry after local authorities tightened regulations when it came to operating permits while in the case of the state of Coahuila casinos were banned altogether. The tragedy in the Casino Royale has had wide sweeping repercussions for the industry and immediately led to calls for reform to Mexico’s gaming act.
In August 2011 a group of armed men attacked, and then set fire to, the Casino Royale located in an upmarket neighbourhood of the city of Monterrey. The casino, located in an affluent part of Mexico’s third-largest city, 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.