efore the current situation of the market, it was inevitable to start the analysis with a revision of the facts occured last year, in which an attack to a casino in the city of Monterrey killed 52 people.
For doctor Ochoa Sánchez, President of AIEJA, there were a series of facts that harmed the industry seriously from an unforeseeable fact, as a terrorist attack. “Today the worrying fact, beyond the terrible result of the attack itself, is the message that the media offered the population, in which the casino industry was blamed for it; and, somehow, now we are in a very serious situation in which several governors are aiming to close the casino activity”.
“The industry of entertainment and games of chance faced the worst crisis of its history, but every crisis offers opportunities, and from AIEJA we had to work in this sector in two very clear actions: a short-term action: the defense before the negative public opinion generated after the attack, and a long-term action, in order to recover the image of this sector”, pointed Ochoa Sánchez.
“We have worked in a repositioning strategy of the industry- added the head of AIEJA- In a few weeks we achieved to present in the media, revert the trend of the attacks against the casino industry, until having a very different situation nowadays than the one offered by the media nine months ago. Today we have to work in order to avoid not the media attack, but the internal attacks from our own industry. We must unite and generate platforms that allow us to grow, and make them see that we are an industry that pays taxes, that we are not involved in prostitution or money laundering, and that we do want to work with the damages that the activity may generate in people with gambling problems, for example, that are isolated cases but that we must avoid and combat from the industry, in order to offer a healthy, clean and legal entertainment options, as we all want”.
Besides, Cynthia Fragoso Fesh (VP of Industry of Cadillac Jack), commented from AIEJA that several tasks have been performed through the commissions, in charge, among other things, to contact and improve the relationships with the authorities, as well as to give shape and legal security to the industry.
“With Segob we have performed seminars, worked together and been very close before August 25, 2011, trying to communicate them the real technical operation of the business, to let them really control the operation, beyond presenting the bill we want to boost in order to modernize the nowadays obsolete Mexican legislation. We want to show ourselves as we are: an industry socially responsible and self-regulated, and we want to communicate this to the whole society”, he stressed.
“With regard to gambling problems, we are working with the authorities in a national plan to create a network and a directory of authorized support centers and have a foundation that allow us to reaffirm our commitment to combat this phenomenon. We must work hard in the prevention and support of people with gambling adiction, to plan a socially responsible industry, to be an entertainment option and help bettors to be aware of the money that each person allocates to the entertainment,” added Fragoso Fesh.
Finally, Isaac Dehesa, General Director of Big Bola Casino, talked about the situation that the operators in general had to face after the attack in Monterrey. He assured that, beyond the tragedy, this situation offered learnings and positive situations, that must be capitalized by those who operate casinos nowadays.
“We have to work in order to dissociate from bad activities, such as prostitution and money laundering, which historically, and an international level, are falsely associated to our sector”, commented the executive. “We have now achieved to generate in Mexico a transparent, legal and nice casino business, and we must concentrate in order to preserve the activity”.
“In the case of our company, we received 48 inspections after the arson attack of the casino in Monterrey. The government order was to withdraw machines and cause a dramatic effect in society regarding casinos and the power of the state to control and combat them. We had to work very hard to show that we have a legal and secure operation, because the aim was not only to control but also to clearly cause harm to the gaming activity, and finally the 99% of the machines that were retired from casinos had to be given back to the operators, showing that the operation of almost all the companies was legal and serious, which finally turned out to be positive for our image”, commented Dehesa.
“Unfortunately, we had to deal with big budgets of lawyers and specialists the brunt of the government in its policy of confiscation of equipment, but in this, and beyond economic losses, it generated the fear of public opinion. All of us started implementing new equipment and started bringing more guarantees, so, as I said before, we managed to capitalize the situation into something positive”.
“Fortunately, managed to come off well as an industry from the Monterrey issue, but today we must work in order to avoid authorities to act against the sector, because we operate in a serious and controlled industry. We deserve the respect and the approval from the authorities, that nowadays are taking absurd and excessive actions in just some regions, aiming to deprive the public from a legal activity that will become illegal as long as they aim to ban it”, he concluded.
The conference closed with questions and answers with the public, confirming this way the interest of the Mexican market in this type of professional forums.