hy should we expect the Mexican gambling industry to increase?
The Entertainment Industry located in the Nueva León state in Mexico recently announced good news for the sector after years of difficult events. A Research and Treatment Institute for Gambling Adiction was created in the state's capital, Monterrey, that will be focused in the collection and analysis of gambling adiction data, also developing prevention policies, guiding people on the free options they have at the Muguerza Hospital; people that are already at risk of suffering this kind of addiction, both in the psicological and psychiatric levels. We must highlight the fact that the facility was sponsored by the Petolof Foundation but the idea is that all the gambling industry in Nueva León joins the initiative.
Regarding my statements that the casino industry could double by the year 2018, I said that based on two premises. On the first place, it is important to know that the industry in Mexico currently works thanks to the issuance of 33 permits that allow the opening of 690 gambling halls. The country has 319 halls that are open with about 35 dealing with legal disputes pushing for their reopening. This means we have 330 unopened potential halls but which have already been authorized.
Such figures would indicate the growth possibility we have pointed out. But of course it also has to do with the new legislation.
"We have two or three legislative periods for the law to be passed"
How will a new legislation impact on the industry?
Growth would not happen without the approval of the new law. As long as the law is not passed, it is unlikely that the current administration shows interest in promoting the opening of new gambling halls. So, without the enactment of the new law, we could estimate 20-percent growth tops for the next two and a half years that the government has ahead in office. If the new legal framework is aprroved, we would double numbers, without a doubt.
"I think we could negotiate with the tourist sector"
How have political interests affected the Senate debate? Do you consider the project will be addressed in the upcoming legislative period?
We have two or three legislative periods for the law to be passed. I think the next term, that will start on Sebtember 1 ending of December 15 this year, would be favorable (to debate the bill), with 60-70 percent chances to approve it. The reason why I am confident about the approval of the law is because the government led by Peña Nieto and the area that coordinates gambling in Mexico, which is the Government Office, have firm plans to have the sector regularized within a new updated legal framework. I think yes, it is the intention of both the government and political parties in general in Mexico to have a new law.
If there is a clash of interests? Well, really not that much. I think we could negotiate with the tourist sector, that has some concerns about the hotel areas, and also we could make some amendments to the original text to get consensus from the whole sector. If we were to reach this, it would be highly likely that the bill gets approved in the next term.
The 2016 elections have blocked the debate as 13 districts held elections, plus the security laws debate, especially the Anti-Corruption National System General Act that seeks to ensure transparency in public office.
How do you evaluate the work carried out by the SEGOB ?
In my opinion, the SEGOB has carried out a significant job during Peña's six-year presidential term. On one hand, at the beginning of his administration, information on concessionaires was made available. Later, two permits were revoked due to procedure errors. One of the them, Emex, was declaed totally indadmissible. Megasports is still struggling to recover its permit in court.
It is also important to highlight that the initiative of the new law, that is currently being debated at the Senate, was fueled by the SEGOB itself. Furthermore, we have managed, as Yogonet knows, to hold the Regulators Iber-American International Summit sponsored by the Government Office, which is really favorable for my country. The next step is regulation. If regulation comes with the law, great. If not, we will focus our efforts in proposing some amendments to the current regulations which contemplate matters such as online gambling, live gambling, machines certification, staff certification and responsible gambling.
Do you consider an alliance between AIEJA and APJSAC possible?
I don´t think a complete and absolute alliance between AIEJA and APJSAC will be possible. It would be ideal to have only one association in Mexico; the interests each association represents are different. However, we did manage to set some alliances regarding some topics such as the promotion of fiscal reforms, the push for the new law, coordination efforts to celebrate the Ibero-American Summit, a joint position to request the opening of new gambling halls in the country.
We have come to an agreement on these matters and I think we will be able to continue working together. Thinking about a merger, that would be too complicated.
We already noticed that unity creates strength which has allowed us to have more access to the market. The two associations together currently account for 85 percent of the casino offer in the country and trends over the past months have shown that other permit holders have requested to join our organizations. That way we should we rapidly cover almost 90 percent of the total.
What are your projections for the gambling industry once Peña Nieto ends his term?
If the next president is from a different party, it will depend on that government's decisions. I think we would do fine but I could not be sure about that until we don´t know who the candidates are and what their proposals for the industry consist of.
For a start, it looks like no candidate will be opposing gambling and I think we could have an organized and controlled growth, just like we hope for. If growth comes by the hand of a legal ring which we all hope for, it would put the Mexican market at the top of the Latin American gambling industry.