Strong and stable… no, not the UK Conservatives, the Mexican gambling market!

8 April 2019

Ahead of the upcoming Juegos Miami event, Clarion Gaming takes a look at the politics of gambling in Mexico.

The Mexican government first created legislation for gambling in 1947 (fascinatingly, the original legal document is still available to view here). Since the first piece of quite restrictive law was ratified, an increasing number of verticals have been legalised, and players can now choose between sports betting, pari-mutuel betting, casino gaming, lottery, bingo and video gambling.

Indeed, the market is now thriving, with a number of large-scale operators running successful businesses in Mexico: Big Bola, Caliente Interactive, Codere, Crown City and Logrand Group to name a few. The situation seemed even more promising towards the end of the last six-year term. Further liberalisation of the market seemed to be on the cards. However, as Miguel Ochoa explained to Totally Gaming “Mexico, unfortunately, is facing uncertain times. The authorities have yet to define what their policy for the gambling sector will be”.

Ochoa is, of course, referring to the elections of 2018 which gave Andrés Manuel López Obrador (or AMLO as he is affectionately nicknamed) and his social-democratic party The National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) shared power through a coalition government with the PT Labour Party.

However, after AMLO’s recent announcement of major reform to the regulation and taxation of gambling, it seems the forecast for his presidency may not be as pessimistic as it was once thought.

If anything in fact, it looks as if AMLO might even have been pre-emptively reading interviews with Ochoa, whose main concern is that “there is a fiscal problem which must be solved… of charging not just federal, but state and municipal taxes,” as this creates “uncertainty regarding the economy and investments”. But it seems he need not worry, after López Obrador explained recently his plans to hand regulatory authority over gambling directly to the federal government, rather than allowing each state to continue applying their own rules. He has also promised to introduce a new tax regime for gambling which, again, would create more uniformity in the market and make Mexico a more attractive prospect to international investors.

These exciting developments come at precisely the right time for Ochoa and AIEJA to showcase the work his jurisdiction is doing to modernise at Juegos Miami (29th – 31st May 2019) which he described to us as “what was missing [from the industry] … there are events organised in Latin America, like we see in Panama [and] Colombia, but they are very focused on the Latin community… this event is the most enriching space for all countries and especially Latinos to network in the most exclusive manner. AIEJA is committed to this event”. 
Clarion Gaming introduced Jurisdiction of the Year to Juegos Miami 2018 as an initiative to showcase the advancements being made in the Latin American gaming industry, and provide a space for both the Latin American and international communities to come together with the aim of increasing cross-border collaboration.

The Mexican market is another one which has suffered from stereotyping and a lack of international investment. Yet with the positive, collaboration and guidance of Miguel Ochoa and AIEJA, and outward-looking approach of Mexico’s new government, it would be silly to miss out on opportunities the country is offering. Indeed, Ochoa finished by telling us “taking advantage of the honour of [the presidency of Juegos Miami] I would like to lead a movement that seeks to enrich participation of… the gaming industry as a whole… and of course strengthen dialogue, networking and unity among all participants”.

To see how exactly Clarion Gaming and AIEJA will be doing this, join us at Juegos Miami 2019. Register here.