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Legal & Regulatory

Gambling on Mexico's anti-establishment president-elect

Anti-establishment outsider Andrés Manuel López Obrador has claimed victory in Mexico's presidential election,  a leftward turn that could be bad news for the gambling industry.In a brief speech in Mexico City, Lopez Obrador called for reconciliation after a bitter election campaign and promised profound change that respects the law and constitutional order.

mexico

“I confess that I have a legitimate ambition: I want to go down in history as a good president of Mexico,” Lopez Obrador told supporters.

Exactly where López Obrador stands on legalising, regulating or expanding gambling is not yet clear.

Mexico reportedly has a $10bn a year gambling market, making it the second largest in the Latin American market after Argentina. The country also has an estimated 320 casinos and space for another 300, Francisco Vidal, COO and director of Operations at Sortis and Golden Lion Casinos, told Casino Review.

Mexico's president-elect has opposed an expansion of the casino industry in the past, however. 

“It’s [just] a matter of boosting tourism, there is no need to allow casinos,” López Obrador reportedly said in 2005, when asked about expanding the casino industry to create jobs and boost the economy. At the time, he said the decision not to legislate for casinos “instead of hurting us, benefits us”.

Prior to the election, Mexico was in the process of reviewing a new Federal Gaming Law draft bill. If passed,  Mexico would have officially recognise the gaming industry and take steps to create a new regulator to monitor the activity, the Yucatan Times reported. The new law would also allow Mexico to levy a betting tax and operators would have to implement anti-money laundering measures.

Whether that bill will continue to be debated in the legislature remains to be seen.

López Obrador, who campaigned against spiraling corruption and violence, appears to have won the election by a majority of between 53% and 53.8% of the vote. Exit polls show that his party is poised to take a large number of seats in the Senate and lower house, and possibly absolute majorities in both, which would allow the party to control the fate of the Federal Gaming Law draft bill. 

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