Mexico may legalize Togel Hari Ini gambling
Controversial legislation making its way through the Mexican Congress would allow more than a dozen casinos to be built at popular Mexican tourist destinations and border cities, including Tijuana.
A congressional analysis found that Mexico could be a $3 billion-a-year gambling market, creating 155,000 jobs and pumping millions more into the nation’s economy.
Casino officials at Indian reservations in San Diego County say they are monitoring the progress of the legislation, but they say they don’t believe a casino in Tijuana will significantly affect gambling north of the border.
“It’s something that we are watching as any prudent Togel Hari Ini gaming company would,” said Gary Thompson, a spokesman for Harrah’s Entertainment, which operates a hotel and casino on the Rincon Indian Reservation in Valley Center. “The proposal is in its nascent stage and it’s too early to say whether it will have any impact on us.”
In San Diego County, there are nine casinos operating on Indian reservations; five of them are in North County at the Pauma, Pala, Rincon, San Pasqual and La Jolla reservations.
The measure being debated in Mexico’s house of representatives would modify a 55-year-old law that prohibits most forms of gambling.
Nevertheless, there is an estimated $500-million-a-year gambling industry in Mexico that operates in a legal gray area that includes sports betting, horse racing, cockfights and casinos.
Proponents of the new law say gambling in Mexico is untaxed and unregulated.
“We can’t continue to believe that by ignoring the problem it will cease to exist,” said Luz del Carmen Lopez Rivera, a congresswoman who supports legalizing gambling. “Lack of rules propagates clandestine arrangements, bribes and all the vices that result from an activity without any control.”
Opponents of the measure say gambling will attract drug cartels, money-laundering operations and will feed gambling addictions.
Not the first
There have been other proposals to legalize gambling. The difference today is that the bill, called the Federal Law on Gambling Games, Sweepstakes and Casinos, has the support of Mexico’s three largest political parties and President Vicente Fox, as well as major labor unions and the hotel and tourism industries.
“I am in favor of casinos, in a regulated and controlled way, above all if they are in areas frequented by tourists,” Fox said last year at a tourism convention.
Business leaders argue that the law will bolster Mexico’s sagging tourism industry.
Analysts in Mexico say that in the last decade the number of tourists who visited Mexico increased, but that the amount of money they spend there decreased.
The new law also proposes a 9 percent tax on gambling that would be divided equally among federal, state and local governments.
Where they’ll go
The cities that are being considered as sites for the casinos include border towns such as Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez, Laredo and Reynosa. Tourist destinations being considered include Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos, Acapulco and Cancun.
Tijuana, which has long lived with the stigma of being a city of vice, is a popular day-trip destination for many Americans. But Tijuana is also the hub of one of Mexico’s most powerful drug cartels, the Arellano Felix family.
Jesus Blancornelas, the editor of the weekly newspaper Zeta and an outspoken critic of drug cartels, said there are many reasons to oppose casinos in Mexico, particularly in Tijuana. He cites poor infrastructure, inadequate police agencies, lack of other attractions, traffic problems and drug-related problems.
“In Mexico, gambling would open the door to drug traffickers to operate casinos,” Blancornelas said. “If the government could control drug cartels, it would be good to operate casinos, with a public works program to open freeways, better hotels, access to the beaches and other attractions.”
During the Prohibition era —- alcohol was banned in the United States from 1920 to 1933 —- Tijuana became a popular travel destination for Americans to drink and gamble. Today, Tijuana has had difficulty shedding its tarnished image.
Politically powerful families gained licenses from the Mexican government to operate satellite sports betting businesses in Tijuana. Sports betting, bingo and other forms of gambling are “tolerated.”
But Las Vegas-style gambling, such as slot machines, roulette and other games, are illegal in Mexico. Mexican gamblers must cross the border to travel to Las Vegas or Indian reservations near the border.
Mexican gamblers from Tijuana routinely travel by the busloads to North and East County casinos, but tribal casino officials said Mexican casinos will have a difficult time attracting gamblers south of the border to Tijuana because of traffic delays at the border and security concerns in Mexico.
“In terms of losing American customers, I don’t think we will,” said Nikki Symington, a spokeswoman for the Viejas Band of Mission Indians, which operates a casino in Alpine. “Considering the population between Los Angeles and San Diego County, it’s a small percentage that crosses the border.”
Thompson said Harrah’s would consider forming partnerships with Mexican investors to develop casinos in Mexico, though there are no plans to do so now.
“In the past, there have been periodic talks by the Mexican government about legalizing casinos but they have never proceeded,” Thompson said. “We are taking a wait-and-see attitude.”
There has been no vote scheduled on the proposal. If approved, it will be sent to the Senate for a debate and a vote. It would then have to be signed into law by President Fox.
In the meantime, it is unclear how much support there is for casinos in the Mexican public, or in Tijuana, nor does it matter much, Blancornelas said.
“Public opinion in Tijuana does not count as much to decide whether or not casinos will be built,” he said. “Politicians will make the decision to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ when the president says, if they belong to his party, or confront whatever decision Fox makes, if they are from another party.”