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Mexico – Operators take legal action against slot machine ban

By - 8 January 2024

A number of operators have asked the Judiciary to declare as unconstitutional the presidential decree of November 16 that prohibits slot machines and reduces the duration of casino permits, among other restrictions.

At least twelve permit holders and casino operators filed a writ of amparo (a legal claim in Mexico to make constitutional rights effective) in the last two weeks of 2023, to challenge the reform of Mexico’s Federal Law on Games and Sweepstakes. 

According to local press, Gabriel Regis, Sixteenth District Judge in Administrative Matters, has already accepted six of the writs for processing, and in three cases (Operadora Megawin, Eventos Festivos de México and El Palacio de los Numeros) the judge has already agreed to suspend the rule, allowing them to operate normally until the constitutionality of the decree is resolved.

​However other magistrates have denied the motions or have asked for further clarification from companies such as Codere, Operadora de Espectáculos Deportivos, Zitrogames and Espectáculos Deportivos de Oeste, as well as the Association of Permit Holders, Operators and Suppliers of the Entertainment and Gambling Industry in Mexico (AIEJA). In December the president of the AIEJA said that the AIEJA was working on two strategies to confront the ban. Firstly, the presentation of legal appeals, and secondly, the promotion of a new gaming law.

It is estimated that the judicial process could last a year and the case could even reach the Supreme Court of Justice, which unanimously in 2016 endorsed the use of slot machines in casinos. In its ruling at the time the court declared that those playing slot machines were taking part in sweepstakes and the outcome did not depend on skill unlike card games which are defined as gambling under Mexican gaming law.

In November the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador  banned slots in casinos and other gambling facilities. However the reform will not be retroactive, so casinos will still be able to use them for the time remaining on their permits. These licenses can only have a maximum validity of 15 years. Once this time passes licenses won’t be eligible for renewal or extension. Those licenses which have been granted but have not been acted upon were cancelled.

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