Mexico’s Gaming Industry Set to Battle Government Over New Slot Ban

The Mexican gaming industry is preparing for a legal battle after President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador announced a ban on slot machines in casinos and gaming halls. This decision has caused uproar within the gaming sector, as they believe it will have a significant impact on their operations and the country.

Miguel Ángel Ochoa, the president of the Association of Permit Holders, Operators, and Suppliers of the Entertainment and Gambling Industry in Mexico (Aieja), has outlined the industry’s defense strategy. This involves fighting for their interests and advocating for revisions to the Federal Law on Games and Sweepstakes.

The gaming industry is concerned about the potential loss of revenue, as slot machines account for 85% of their business. The imposed restrictions could result in a loss of MXN12 billion (US$700.32 million) in revenue for the current federal government.

One major criticism from the gaming sector is the disregard for their input during the public consultation conducted by the National Commission for Regulatory Improvement (Conamer). Aieja plans to pursue legal channels to prevent the closure of businesses, particularly casinos whose permits are set to expire in the coming years.

The industry also highlights the need for an update to Mexico’s gambling laws, as the Federal Law on Games and Sweepstakes hasn’t been significantly altered in about 80 years. Aieja hopes to initiate discussions on new regulations with the Ministry of the Interior and legislators in the upcoming year.

The gaming industry is also concerned about the potential impact on employment, with over 100,000 positions at risk in the next six years. This includes both direct and indirect jobs generated by the 429 casinos across the country.

While President Obrador is unlikely to change his mind, the gaming industry sees a potential lifeline in the future with the upcoming presidential election. Former Mexico City mayor Claudia Sheinbaum is the most likely candidate to succeed Obrador. While not a staunch gambling supporter, she has shown recognition for the industry’s contributions to the government in the past.

Overall, the Mexican gaming industry is gearing up for a prolonged legal battle to defend its operations and hopes for a balanced approach to the regulations that will address both industry concerns and regulatory imperatives.