The anticipated introduction of new gaming legislation will not happen this
In what is becoming something of a December ritual, the legislature of Mexico will once again fail to find the time this session to introduce a bill to revamp the country’s gaming laws. The earliest that the bill would be introduced is in the next legislative session, between February and April 2009.
The draft legislation, which reportedly is complete, was drawn up by the Gaming and Raffles Subcommittee of Mexico’s lower house, the Chamber of Deputies. Back in September, subcommittee Chairman Armando García Méndez, of the Alternative Party, had predicted that the proposal would be ready before the end of the September-December legislative session.
The bill would prohibit gaming halls from being situated in the vicinity of schools, family entertainment centers and churches-something which does happen currently. The new legislation would allow casinos but prohibit slot machines in gaming halls and stores. A system of fines for those operating in violation of the law is included as well, with penalties ranging from 300,000 pesos-about $22,000-to 3 million pesos.
Observers remained optimistic throughout the autumn until early December, when Rep. Octavio Martinez Vargas, who presides over the Chamber of Deputies Tourism Commission, reportedly said that he knew of no new gaming legislation, nor would there be time to debate any such legislation in the current session.
The delay is just the latest detour on Mexico’s road to develop a modern, regulated gaming industry.
Mexico’s problem, it appears, is not a lack of gaming opportunities but a lack of an effective regulatory system. In 2004, when the government published its regulations on gaming and raffles, a 1947 law that allowed only certain types of gaming was able to be circumvented by a somewhat loose interpretation of one of the articles. As a result, gaming halls with devices very much like slots began to spread. Another problem is the lack of enforcement.
Exactly when the situation will change is anybody’s guess. Mexico has bigger problems at the moment, including expanding drug violence that has claimed 4,000 lives this year so far.