Around US120m could be invested in Mexico if the government finally passes new gaming laws, according to The President of the Mexican Gaming Association (AIEJA) Miguel Angel Ochoa. Sixteen new gaming establishments have opened in Mexico this year which takes the total to 319.
“Without the approval of a new law this trend will continue. It is for that reason that once the new law is passed and the new National Institute of Gaming and the Advisory Council is set up it will provide legal certainty to dozens of investors who could invest just over US120m in the Mexican industry.”
There are currently 335 gaming establishments that have been granted a licence by the Interior Ministry, he said. “In our country there are rules and tax regulations, that it is why there are few permit holders with the right to open gambling halls. However, the approval of the Gaming Law, which will probably be discussed in the legislative period in September, will provide a positive outlook for entrepreneurs who want to invest in this industry.”
Currently the gaming industry provides direct employment to 38,000 people and provides an additional 140,000 indirect jobs but this could increase significantly long term. “The casino industry is a controversial issue in the country as the reality does not match the image that has been created through certain films that link gaming with money laundering, addiction, drug trafficking and prostitution. But casinos are a source of job creation and a tourist attraction,” he said.
In February 2013 a congressional committee was charged with investigating how licences had been granted throughout Mexico and drafting new gaming laws. The House of Representatives finally approved the new Federal Betting and Raffles Law in December 2015. The law was passed onto the Senate where it quickly became stalled in the committee stage. Meanwhile, opposition to the new act has been growing and a number of hotel and tourist associations have joined forces to criticise current proposals which would allow for full scale casinos in Mexico.
However, gaming legislation has been earmarked as a matter of priority. Earlier this year the Head of Mexico’s Interior Ministry Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong 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 quickly. Speaking at the opening of Eighth Plenary Meeting of the PRI and PVEM parties in February 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.