Mexico’s Secretariat of the Interior (Segob) is taking steps to prohibit bets or draws in various gaming machines, including slot machines, bingo, and card simulators. This move is part of a draft decree submitted to the National Commission for Regulatory Improvement (Conamer) on September 7.
Key Provisions of the Bill
Under the proposed legislation, all forms of games that rely on chance would be banned. However, the 444 casinos currently operating in Mexico would be permitted to continue using existing machines until their licenses expire, after which they would not be renewed. Additionally, the 408 licenses issued to non-operational casinos would not be allowed to activate these machines.
The bill cites the Federal Law of Games and Drawings, which already prohibits games of chance. However, the law has not been updated since 1947 when former President Felipe Calderón legalized machines, a move supported by the Supreme Court of Justice.
The bill emphasizes the Mexican government’s responsibility to protect vulnerable individuals, particularly children, adolescents, young adults, senior citizens, and those with mental health issues or addictions, including compulsive gambling or gambling disorders, from the potential harmful effects of gambling.
Segob also seeks to eliminate all third-party operators from the gambling landscape by preventing them from becoming “sub-permittees.”
Differing Opinions and Potential Impacts
The Association of Permit Holders, Operators, and Suppliers of the Entertainment and Gaming Industry (AIEJA) opposes this decision. They are primarily concerned about a potential revenue decrease of up to 90%, which would significantly impact the Special Tax on Production and Services (IEPS). Additionally, this could lead to the closure of many gaming establishments, resulting in significant job losses.
Alfonso Pérez Lizaur, head of the Association of Permit Holders and Suppliers of Games and Sweepstakes, likened the proposed changes to “watching television in black and white” and expressed concern about a drastic reduction in player participation and the loss of thousands of direct and indirect jobs.
However, the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit (SHCP) reported that the IEPS revenue from games and sweepstakes accounted for only 1% of the total income generated by this tax in the country. Nevertheless, local taxes would be significantly affected, as current licensees and casinos are obligated to pay installation and operation taxes.
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