When the Mexican Chamber of Deputies approved new gaming laws late last year, it seemed like only a matter of time before the issue was taken up by the nation’s Senate.
Despite some delays, the time for that debate appears to be coming, as one prominent official says he believes that the laws will be passed before the end of 2015.
Mexican Gaming Association (AIEJA) President Miguel Angel Ochoa Sanchez told a radio station that he believes the bill will be passed sometime in the next Senate session, which would mean the legislation would be looked at between September and December.
New Bill Would Add Online Gambling Regulations
Among the regulations in the new bill is a clause that would see regulation come to Mexico’s online gambling industry, which has previously resided in a grey area. That would be part of a complete overhaul of the nation’s gaming laws, which were last codified in 1947.
“It is very important to us that the law can be approved in order to avoid illegality, corruption and above all, to ensure the safety of the player first, secondly of workers, and third of investors in order to create jobs, generate investment and generate taxes for the national economy,” Ochoa said in the radio interview.
Currently, reports state that the exact implications of the new legislation isn’t entirely clear. However, when it comes to online gambling, the law does say that all gaming servers must be based in Mexico.
That would suggest that when it comes to online poker, Mexico’s regulated market would likely be dealing with a segregated player pool, where Mexicans would not be competing against players from other countries.
That would leave Mexican players with a lot less liquidity on their sites, and to a lesser extent, would also reduce the player pools on many international sites.
However, it is far too early to be certain about the results of such legislation, since it has yet to be debated, let alone passed. In addition, there will be plenty of opportunities for lawmakers to amend the bill, meaning changes of any sort are still possible.
Law Creates New National Regulator
The main thrust of the law would be to create a new regulator for the nation’s gaming industry: the National Institute of Games and Lotteries. There is no specification as to the tax rates that would be levied for online or live gambling under the new regulatory regime.
The new regulatory system is one that many people in Mexico believe is sorely needed. Over the past three years, around 100 casinos have been closed in the country due to questions about the licenses they were operating under, with some officials saying that the current system has caused disorder under the watch of the current regulator, the Directorate General of Gaming.
According to Ochoa, the lack of modernization in Mexico’s gaming laws has cost the country about $200 million in economic activity each year, including investments, employment and tax revenues.
Under the bill, the new regulator would have 240 days before it would have to begin issuing licenses, meaning that if the legislation passes this year, it will likely be sometime in the second half of 2016 before it truly goes into effect.
The new gaming bill was initially expected to quickly pass last December. However, the legislation was delayed after several high priority bills and constitutional amendments were introduced to the Senate.