Casinos in Sonora, Mexico, Just Landed in the Taxman’s Crosshairs

Posted on: May 5, 2022, 05:57h. 

Last updated on: May 5, 2022, 10:30h.

A discrepancy in tax revenue casinos provided in Sonora, Mexico, last year has provoked the federal taxman. The government is ready to put the casinos’ accounting practices under the microscope this year.

Casino Life
The Casino Life casino in Sonora, Mexico. It and others in the state are under scrutiny for allegedly misreporting revenue for tax purposes. (Image: Casinos Avenue)

Sonora, Mexico, has 33 licensed casinos, all of which regularly pay taxes. However, it seems as though one, or possibly a few, didn’t comply last year. Now, the taxman is coming for them.

The fiscal situation of Sonora casinos is now under scrutiny, according to Alfonso Durazo, the governor of the state. Sonora casinos gave up an estimated $11.9 million in taxes last year. However, this figure was much lower than the State Ministry of Finance expected.

Show Me the Money

Durazo pointed out that in other entities, such as Nuevo León, the taxes obtained from gaming rooms exceed $30 million. He also indicated that, with the audit program by the taxman already in place, Sonora will increase the tax collection by as much as 400%.

Currently, Sonora has 33 regulated casinos spread across the state – Nuevo León also has 33. The city of Hermosillo has the largest number of game rooms with a total of 12. Among the most sought-after venues are the Imperial Casino, Casino Life, and the Hermosillo Central Casino.

Through the state’s new fiscal measures, which the governor didn’t detail, the tax revenue by gambling halls this 2022 will reach $48.6 million. This figure is possible thanks to the three types of taxes that gambling halls must pay. They give up a percentage of their revenue as tax for offering gaming activities and raffles, the expenses of each room, and a tax on the prizes they award.

In addition, a growing interest in the online side of the sector is arriving. Thanks to internet casinos, more Sonorans are now jumping online to game. As a result, the number of online operators continues to grow, and will increase in the coming years. In 2020, according to Statista, the online market was worth over $2 billion, making it an attractive target.

Casinos Unhappy with the Attention

Businesses in the gambling sector have been unhappy with the measures taken by the government of Sonora. Many of them see these audits by the Ministry of Finance as an attack on the sector and a way to squeeze them out of more money.

There are accusations of wrongdoing on the part of gaming regulators at virtually all levels. Recently, the General Directorate of Games and Sweepstakes was the subject of allegations by gaming properties that it was extorting casinos and forcing them to pay to keep their licenses.

Because of the COVID crisis, casinos in Mexico were closed or operating under restrictions on their attendance for almost a year. This severely affected the revenues of the gambling properties.

The casinos aren’t happy with the latest developments. They argue that the government is coming after them just as they began to see their operations return to normal, disrupting the recovery process.

These audits will concentrate on tax collection and other tax matters. They will also explore the relationship the government has with casinos. It covers the fiscal periods between 2015 and 2021, which means the properties are looking at potentially damaging findings if they attempted to cook the books.