Current slots to operate until licenses expire

Mexico's President signs decree that modifies the Gaming Law and bans slot machines

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, President of México
Reading time 2:13 min

The government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador approved a new decree that modifies the Regulations of the Federal Law of Gaming and Sweepstakes. One of the reforms included in the document is the suppression of raffles through slot machines.

The decree, which becomes effective this Friday, November 17, and was presented in September of this year, establishes that the objective of the ordinance is "to regulate the provisions of the Gaming Law for the authorization, control, surveillance, and inspection of the games when they involve bets, as well as the draw in all its modalities, except for the draws held by the National Lottery."

In the document, published on Thursday 16 in the Official Gazette, the Ministry of the Interior (Segob) stated that it revoked the article that allowed the "drawing of numbers or symbols through machines", as slots are legally known. According to the decree, the only draws recognized as legal are those held by the National Lottery.

Slot machines and casinos with valid permits

As of this change, the federal government will no longer grant new permits for opening establishments with slot machines, while the current permits will be respected until their expiration date, but will no longer be renewed.

Luisa María Alcalde Luján, Secretary of the Interior of Mexico

The decree is not retroactive. Therefore, casinos with slot machines will be able to use such equipment until the end of the permit, but not to extend the license for any reason. This provision will even apply to those who have a permit, even if they have not put into operation any casino or betting shop in the country.

If the casinos exceed the term of validity, it will be understood as 15 years non-extendable; in other words, they will have a maximum term of 15 years to stop using such licenses.

The same regulation explains that the permits for the opening and operation of cross-betting in spaces such as horse racetracks, frontons, greyhound tracks, betting centers, and all related facilities, will be valid for a minimum of one year and a maximum of 15 years.

Additionally, the permits that have not been used by the operators will be canceled.  "The authorizations of operators who are not operating or managing an establishment in operation at the date of enforcement of this decree will be null and void," the document adds.

Legalization of 2016

This modification comes seven years after these machines were legalized during the six-year term of Felipe Calderón, when the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) endorsed the use of slot machines in casinos, considering that it is a lottery game and not a game of chance or skill.

In 2016, the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation declared slots legal, but only those operating in casinos with permits to operate these machines. In the discussion, they had agreed that this type of game falls into the category of "sweepstakes" and not in the section of chance or skills such as cards in their different modalities.

However, according to Segob, "they are a source of corruption of minors, their use is not a game, it is an addiction that opens the door to crime". It is detailed that behind the use and installation of this type of machine, there is a network of organized crime.

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