Casinos hit Mexican political agenda
Despite the aura of secrecy surrounding the agenda of the Mexican Congress, the Milenio daily from Mexico City revealed that the new Gambling Law would run high in the Chamber of Deputies during this congressional period, according to Mexican Information and Research Associates.
The daily wrote that along with other issues the Congress would focus on the new Gaming with Wagers and Raffles Law, which would permit casinos to be put in place throughout Mexico.
The paper opined that the new law on gambling regulation could represent an electoral vote-getter for political parties and party members represented in congress.
Important economic interests, led by key groups opposed to casinos, such the Catholic Church, are aggressively lobbying congress and getting their messages across to the public. Major hotel owners also see the development of casinos as a threat to their tourism business, as they are not prepared to make new investments or compete with new enterprises.
Among the supporters of the new gambling bill are potential investors who recognize the opportunities for new business, along with developers and promoters of places where casinos might be located, such as Acapulco, Los Cabos, Cancún and Puerto Vallarta.
The approval of the legislative proposal would depend on the outcome of negotiations between the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the National Action Party (PAN).
The National Gambling Impact Study Commission in the U.S.A is another factor which is bound to play a role in the debate.
The surveys show that 86 percent of the country support the development of casino industry. Moreover gambling is expected to create thousands of direct and indirect jobs.
On the downside, the paper mentioned that the new law could lead to a higher crime rate, increased opportunities for money laundering and destruction of families because of gambling addiction.
The draft gambling bill has provisions to handle these issues by requiring the creation of federal gaming commissions which would enforce procedures and measures for preventing criminal activities, as well as monitor and regulate the industry.
Licensed gambling operators will have to ensure “scrupulous behavior of assistants,” and implement measures to “counteract the effects of gambling on patrons and communities.”
Under the draft bill the taxes derived from gambling would be shared between the federal, state and municipal governments.
The draft gambling bill does not yet contain any provisions on the casino licensing criteria and procedures.
Considering the demands and restrictions imposed on foreign investment by other Mexican laws, it is thought that casinos will guarantee new investment, the creation of real jobs and new tourism development. This would be similar in intent to Venezuela’s casino control law that only allows casinos in five star hotels with a minimum of 200 rooms.
Despite the prohibition of wager gambling under the current gaming law which dates back to 1947, Mexico has a thriving unregulated industry of horse and dog racetracks, foreign books, Internet gaming, lotteries, cockfights, and the new Gambling Law is seen as an important step towards the legalization of this market.