A walk through the murky waters of Mexican gambling laws, from the French era to what they’ve become today and what it means for expatriates.
Mexican Gambling Laws for Betting Expats
The United States of America’s southern neighbor is famous for its captivating ancient civilization, sandy beaches, and warm climate. Today, approximately 130 million folks are living in Mexico and 10.6 million travelers visited this country within the first quarter of 2018. Besides enjoying the charming scenery and culture, Mexicans and expatriates like to indulge in gambling. It is, therefore, important that we shed some light on the Mexican gambling laws you need to have at your fingertips.
Mexican Gambling History
Although gambling in Mexico goes back past the time of the Aztecs, it has been part and parcel of the Mexican culture since the 19th century when the French made attempts to lay claim to this land. During the thirty-year Porfirio Diaz’s reign, there were French-styled gambling establishments scattered across the landscape. Nevertheless, the Diaz era ended after the 1911 Mexican Revolution that suspended all gambling activities for a while.
The industry sprung back to prominence in the 1920s, as expats were looking for a place outside their own country where they could gamble legally. However, this didn’t last long as President Lazaro Cardenas declared gambling illegal in the year 1935. In 1947, a gaming law was enacted to further strengthen the supposed death of the industry, which is still in play to this day. Since then, there have been ongoing debates on whether or not to fully legalize gambling in Mexico.
Bringing Order to the Industry
Attempts to fully legalize gambling in Mexico have been met by mixed reactions. Supporters of this motion tend to be business-minded government officials as well as the hotel and tourism industry. They argue that the legalization of gambling will create a tourism boom, leading to more job opportunities for the citizens and an increase in government revenue.
Opponents, on the other hand, fear that this move is going to pave the way for foreign investors, creating more foreign control over their land. Also, they fear the involvement of drug cartels and organized crime, especially in the department of money laundering. Then there is the group that simply feels gambling goes against their moral compass and will result in the decline of traditional values in the country.
After many decades of denial, the government accepted the long-overdue update and in 2004 finally relaxed the gambling laws, four years into Vincente Fox’s presidency. The Secretaria de Gobernacion, or the Ministry of the Interior, which governs the gaming and raffles department issued permits allowing the operation of certain number-based games. Santiago Creel, who was the secretary of state then, issued more gaming licenses than had been approved in the previous 87 years.
However, the online gaming sector is currently unregulated, even though Mexico is amongst the fastest-growing online gambling market in Latin America. The locals technically aren’t allowed to gamble at online casinos, but there is little restraint on the ability to use offshore casinos. As a result, both Mexicans and expats can enjoy playing a wide variety of casino games such as free slots – the top sites of which you can read at online-casinos here.
Currently, the Mexican government is focused on the sector’s internal regulation and control. It is, however, forbidden to use offshore gaming websites – but there aren’t any effective measures or means in place to track down such gaming activities or products that exist outside the borders, especially online gaming products.
In order to advertise or promote any draw, lottery or land-based betting houses within the Mexican borders, it’s required to comply with the specific provisions of the laws as well as to display the Ministry of the Interior approval folio. The new bill in motion discusses the regulations and mechanisms to effectively control or combat offshore gambling activities in the country.
Popular Gambling Markets in Mexico
Now let’s go over several specific categories of gambling so that there isn’t any confusion regarding what you can and can’t do legally when gaming in Mexico.
There are approximately 300 licensed casinos in this country, most of which are concentrated around tourist destinations. This maximizes the revenue while minimizing the potential negative effects on the local population. Legalized operators could also offer their services online or join forces with American providers to host games on their behalf – especially as the US is looking to make online gambling again.
This category of betting is also legal here, with sports betting operators taking bets on national and international sporting events. Caliente is the biggest race and sportsbook in Mexico with more than 50 betting parlors spread across the country. They also offer online bets and are very popular in Baja California, located next to Southern California. You’ll find that several big international operators such as Ladbrokes have ventured into the Mexican gambling market as well.
Dog Racing, horse racing, and Jai Alai are also common gambling activities. In fact, they make up the vast majority of Mexican pari-mutuel gambling. The Hippodrome de la Americas and Juarez race tracks are amongst the most popular horse racing spots.
Video Gaming Machines
The machines can be found at casinos and mini-casinos across this country. These are compared to bingo because they let the players affect the game in various ways – they’re legal under the new 2004 regulations. Typically, a Mexican bingo parlor will have about 200 to 300 machines. The payouts range from 94 to 96%.
Despite lacking specific internet-based legislations, online gaming is legal here. Web-based gambling is not regarded as a separate betting category, rather a different means of accessing already regulated and licensed gambling. Note that certain Mexican gambling laws require game sites licensed in the country to offer services exclusively to expats – or even for those on vacation looking to gamble.
The Yucatan Times