Changes in the casinos law a sure bet

By Fernanda Duque Hernández

Mexican government analyzes a bill for casinos in the Riviera Maya.

Recently, the Mexican Secretariat of the Interior (SEGOB) confirmed the existence of a project for a Las Vegas-style casino to be built in three different locations: the Riviera Maya, Acapulco or on somewhere on the Baja California peninsula. The director of the SEGOB’s Gaming and Lotteries Bureau, Marcela Gonzalez Salas, stated during a press conference that this measure will help keep casinos out of cities’ downtowns.

As always, there are two sides of each coin and the different opinions following the statement on reflect this.

Darío Flota, director of the Riviera Maya’s Destination Marketing Office, expressed his disagreement at the prospect of a Las Vegas-type casinos in this area of Mexico. He stated that the Mexican Caribbean is a national tourism leader and doesn’t need this kind of entertainment. “It has the sun, the beach and cultural and historical offer of the Mayas”.

On the other hand, the leader of the Riviera Maya Business Council Coordinator, Gerardo Valdez Victorio, explained that the government should analyze the advantages and disadvantages before opening the destination to this kind of establishment.

According to the Mexican Association of Real Estate Professionals in Cancun, there are many American companies interested on the construction of gaming centers inside of Cancun and Riviera Maya resorts.

casino mexico

One of them is the transnational company, Hard Rock Café.

Roberto Chapur Zahoul, director of RCD Resorts (the chain of resorts leased to the Hard Rock operation) stated that if the Mexican Chamber of Deputies passes the reforms for the casinos law, Hard Rock would be the first resort of Mexico to open a gaming house inside a new hotel projected to have 1,800 rooms in Cancun’s Hotel Zone.

Resort Mundo Imperial Acapulco also stated that their chain is very interested in opening a casino inside one of its complexes.

Since 1947, Mexico’s law regarding casinos has only ever had one change to it, and officially forbids their establishment. However, businesses with casino-like functions have existed for quite some time now in Mexico, unofficially, which is why in 2013 the Mexican Congress of the Union suggested a reform to the legislation to regulate their licensing and location rather than outright prohibit their legal existence.

According to the Licensees and Suppliers Association of Gaming and Raffles, from 2008 to 2012 the number of casinos grew by 92% in the country. For the government they represented more than USD $47 million in participation fees, while the activity itself yielded a value of USD $603 million. With the reform in place, the director of the gaming and lotteries office estimates that around 297 gaming centers would open.

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