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Mexico – President says he will revoke all casino licenses granted over the last four years

By - 20 March 2023

The president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, declared that his government will not grant new permits to open casinos and warned that if any licenses have been issued in the last four years of his government that they will be revoked.

In a press conference, Obrador reaffirmed his anti gambling stance and announced that he would request a report on the issue from Adán Augusto López Hernández, head of the Secretariat for Home Affairs (Segob) in order to corroborate the current situation regarding the granting of licenses.

Obrador was asked if he was really sticking to his gaming policy by a journalist who said that casinos had increased and pointed out that a casino conference was scheduled to be held on 22nd and 23rd of March, in Santa Fe Mexico.  

“Casinos should not be opened, we are not giving permission to open casinos . . . We are not. And I am going to ask the Secretariat for Home Affairs for a report because, if there is a new license, it is cancelled, because the instruction is not to deliver any license.”

Obrador also referred to the licensing regime of President Vicente Fox who added legislation as an appendix to the law, granting the then head of the Segob Santiago Creel the power to grant licences. Before leaving office in 2005 Creel granted 763 licenses to gaming parlours all over Mexico many of which were granted to one single operator.

In September 2019 Obrador announced that during his six-year term no new licenses would be granted to open any new casinos in Mexico. According to local media sources, the end of the licenses for new gambling operations was part of a gesture to Cardinal Rogelio Cabrera, head of the Mexican Episcopate, since the Catholic Church has repeatedly requested that new casino openings be prevented after the Casino Royale tragedy when a group of armed men attacked and then set fire to a licensed casino in Monterrey leaving 52 people dead in 2011.

In November 2020 Obrador asked the Secretary of Home Affairs, Olga Sánchez Cordero, to carry out an investigation into whether gambling licences had been issued unlawfully under previous administrations. The President said there were question marks over some of the licences issued under President Vicente Fox’s administration saying the processes to award them had been ‘inadequate.’

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