The President of the Mexican Gaming Association (AIEJA) Miguel Angel Ochoa has welcomed the recent Supreme Court endorsement of slot machines but has called for reform.
“Mexico is a developing country, and has the economic and physical conditions for foreign investment. We are just waiting for a legal framework that will provide legal certainty which will allow investors to operate with absolute confidence,” he said after warning that if Mexico does not pass new gaming legislation soon then investment could be directed instead to other countries such as Brazil.
“In Mexico gaming is allowed according to law, and now according to the court, slot machines are legal as long as they are installed in casinos recognised by the Interior Ministry, and those which are not located in casinos are banned,” he said.
Mr Ochoa said that Mexico’s new gaming law needed to be passed quickly in order to encompass the realities of today’s modern gaming landscape. “They (the investors) expect higher security, some Mexican states have closed casinos in an absurd way such as in Coahuila and Chiapas. What we want is a law that provides certainty with a federal framework, where the states or municipalities will not intervene and will only regulate what concerns them,” he said.
Mr Ochoa added that that a number of business interests had halted investments in the industry until new gaming laws are passed and added that a total investment of US$5m to US$10m would be required for the opening up of a casino. These, he said, would be most likely located in tourist hotspots such as Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Huatulco and Los Cabos.
In January Mexico’s Supreme Court of Justice endorsed the use of slot machines in casinos. In its ruling the court declared that those playing slot machines are taking part in sweepstakes and the outcome does not depend on skill unlike card games which are defined as gambling in Mexican gaming law. The ruling comes at a time when new gaming legislation is being considered in the Senate. The House of Representatives approved the new Federal Betting and Raffles Law in December 2014. The new law aims to regulate the gaming industry more efficiently, safeguard the rights of players and make the licensing process more transparent. However, after being sent to the Senate it became stalled in the Economic Committee where it has languished ever since.
The Head of Mexico’s Interior Ministry Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong has meanwhile urged senators from the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and their close allies from The Ecological Green Party (PVEM) to pass Mexico’s new gaming law to prevent the spread of organised crime. Speaking at the opening of Eighth Plenary Meeting of the PRI and PVEM parties the official said that the country was in need of a new law which would more accurately reflect the reality of gaming in Mexico and which would grant the government tighter control over the industry.
“The current law regulates traditional games like cockfighting, horse racing, playing cards, lotteries and betting, but does not regulate the new forms of betting, the ones we see every day everywhere. We do not have the instruments to regulate them and so we need a totally different approach,” he said. Mr Chong said that 31 licences had been granted for a total of 749 establishments which was enough to meet current demand.
The House of Representatives approved the new Federal Betting and Raffles Law in December 2014. The new law aims to regulate the gaming industry more efficiently, safeguard the rights of players and make the licensing process more transparent. However, after it was sent to the Senate it became stalled in the Economic Committee where it has languished ever since.
Mr Chong urged senators from the PRI and PVEM parties to make public the names of those who had shown a reluctance to pass the law and said that private interests had lobbied senators to make sure that the new law was not passed.
Mr Chong called for gambling law reform as he urged senators to pass President Enrique Peña Nieto’s initiative on Security and Justice – a sweeping overhaul of local police forces which would involve dissolving the country’s municipal police forces and placing them under state control along with a package of constitutional amendments aimed at improving security, justice and rule of law.