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Mexico – State of Guanajuato to ban new casino licences

By - 11 February 2014

The Mexican State of Guanajuato plans to introduce a new initiative which would ban the granting of any more licences.

The initiative, which has the backing of local mayors and has been signed by state governor Miguel Márquez, would take the power to grant licences away from local municipalities and the state. Instead in what the governor has described an “historic decision” zoning laws would be changed whereby it would be illegal for land in the state to be used for the purpose of building casinos and sports betting shops.

The new law will be presented for discussion, analysis and approval before the members of the Sixty Second Congress of the State Legislature next week. The new initiative seeks to amend the State Constitution to take power away from local municipalities and the state when it comes to the granting of gaming licences.

According to Mr. Márquez the new law is aimed primarily at preventing gambling addiction and “will help to improve the conditions of harmony and peace, but above all, improve the relationships within our families and communities,” he said. The initiative also has the backing of local church leaders.

At present there are 14 casinos currently in operation in the city of Leon, Irapuato, Salamanca and Celaya which have all been granted a licence by the regulatory body which comes under the control of Mexico’s Interior Ministry (SEGOB). However, the new initiative could run into difficulty as SEGOB has already granted two more licences to the city of León for operations which have yet to be constructed. However, similar initiatives to change zoning laws in order to reduce the proliferation of gaming have been put in place in other states such as Coahuila, Nuevo León and Baja California.

The announcement comes at a time when a major new gaming law is looking increasingly likely. In April 2013 a powerful Congressional Committee was charged with investigating casinos operating illegally in Mexico and helping to develop a new gaming act. The new gaming act has the backing of Mexico’s Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong. He said that there are no longer any casinos operating outside the terms of their licenses and that Mexico will soon pass a new gaming act which will allow for much further control and transparency when it comes to gaming.

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