Published at 07:50h, March 17, 2023

Last update: March 17, 2023 at 02:45h

Mexican President Andres Manual Lopez Obrador is stomping on the gaming industry. In a public statement on Tuesday, Obrador said many casinos have received licenses through bribes or extortion.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador makes a public speech
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador makes a public speech. He stated that he would cancel all casino licenses issued by the country in the last four years. (Image: Reuters)

Obrador plans to ask Interior Secretary Adan Augusto Lopez Hernandez to review existing licenses issued by Mexican states, not the federal government since Obrador became president. The review will focus on the date of the license.

The Interior secretary may also direct the cancellation of certain casino licenses. The government also won’t issue any new licenses moving forward.

Obrador isn’t just going after casinos. In his statement, he stated that the government would not grant concessions to certain types of mining. This could be problematic as current laws give municipalities and states control over land use. This legal precedent may also play a role when casinos fight the government for pulling their licenses.

Obrador Overhaul

Obrador took office in 2018 after Vincente Fox. Obrador alleges that Fox was involved in several illegal deals. Obrador has stated that he will take a tough stance against casinos since 2019.

In 2020 Olga Sanchez Cordero, then-Secretary to the Interior, warned that Mexico’s gambling laws stipulate that only the federal government can issue licenses for casino operations. However, several casinos have emerged after receiving permission from the state, not from federal officials.

Casinos Under Review

Mexico has opened several new casinos in Cancun and Mexicali in the last six months. Two new casinos have been opened in Tamaulipas by two different states. Their licenses are currently under review. Ivy Casino, Mexico City, also opened in January.

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Residents protested the construction and management irregularities. Protestors claimed that the casino was not authorized by the federal government. They blasted Mexico City’s government for not intervening and halted construction because of the lack of a license.

Existing casinos plan to fight Obrador’s order and continue to operate during the legal battle. They will likely continue to operate even if the police intervene to close them down.

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