Legalized gambling could be Mexico’s new tourist niche

Cancun, Q.R. – The topic of legalizing gambling in Mexico has been on the government’s agenda for more than a year.

As Cancun and the Riviera Maya continue with its fast-paced growth, so do ideas on tourism niches.

Oscar Espinoza Villarreal, former Secretary of Tourism, has once again proposed the promotion of casinos as a tourism niche to increase Mexico’s ranking in the industry.

Villareal was Minister of Tourism from 1997 to 2000, all the while attempting to push the idea of legalizing gambling and casinos in the country. In his latest bid to bring casinos to the country, he compared the revenues of Las Vegas, saying that in 2014, there were 29 million tourists generating revenues in excess of $9 billion USD, while in Mexico there were also 29 million visitors with revenues nowhere near that amount.

However Miguel Angel Ochoa Sanchez, President of the Association of Licenses Operators and Suppliers of Gaming and Entertainment in Mexico (AIEJA), says that while gambling in Mexico still needs to be addressed by regulatory laws, illegal operators in the country are taking away nearly $200 million a year in the form of government taxes and licensing fees.

He says that approving and introducing regulated gambling could generate up to $600 million almost instantly and open the door to new laws that would allow for licensing for new legal operators in the Mexican market.

Last year, the proposal to reform Mexico’s gambling regulations was introduced to the House of Representatives on September 9, 2014. The bill was supposed to be introduced to the Chamber of Deputies and approved by September 20.

Mexico’s current gambling laws have been in place since 1947.

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