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Mexico – US Department of State warns against visiting Mexican casinos

By - 20 April 2015

The US Department of State has issued a stark warning advising American citizens against visiting gaming establishments in Mexico.

The advice comes as part of Mexico’s Trave Warning which was published by the Department of State last week. The warning urges US citizens to avoid certain places and institutions in Mexico, “due to threats to safety and security posed by organized criminal groups in the country.” The statement goes into to say that “US citizens have been the victims of violent crimes, such as kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery by organized criminal groups in various Mexican states.”

The warnings specifically single out casinos and other gaming establishments saying that: “Of particular safety concern are casinos, sports books, or other gambling establishments and adult entertainment establishments. U.S. government personnel are specifically prohibited from patronizing these establishments in the states of Coahuila, Durango, Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, San Luis Potosi, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, Jalisco, Colima and Nayarit.”

The statement then goes onto a more wide ranging summary of crime related violence in Mexico.”Crime and violence are serious problems and can occur anywhere, and US citizens have fallen victim to criminal activity, including homicide, gun battles, kidnapping, carjacking, and highway robbery. While many of those killed in organized crime-related violence have themselves been involved in criminal activity, innocent persons have also been killed. The number of US citizens reported to the Department of State as murdered in Mexico was 81 in 2013 and 100 in 2014.”

Casinos in the past have been a focal point of gang violence leading to calls for reform to Mexico’s gaming act. Indeed it was an attack on the Casino Royale in 2011 which provided the impetus to Mexico’s new gaming act which was passed last year by the Mexican Congress and could be passed by the Senate later this year. In 2011 a group of armed men attacked, and then set fire to, the casino 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.

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