Mexico President Opens Review into Casino Licensing Process

Casinos in Mexico will not be able to operate legally quite yet with the country’s President, Manuel López Obrador, issuing an order to open a review into how licenses have been granted so far.

Mexico’s President Puts a Stop to Casino License

Mexico’s legalization bid has just hit a snag with President Manuel López Obrador announcing that he would not approve any new casino licensing applications until an investigation looking into how existing licenses have been attributed is completed.

The President passed an order last week, bringing the country’s burgeoning casino industry to a grinding halt. With Mexico preparing to kickstart its industry since at least June when new tax guidance was passed, this is the latest blow to the contentious issue.

President Obrador expressed doubt as to how Mexican President Vicente Fox, his predecessor, had conducted the licensing process while he was in power between December 1, 2000, and November 30, 2006.

President Obrador suspected inadequate screening and policies, enabling some bidders to gain an unfair advantage. He wants the Secretary of the Interior Olga Sánchez Cordero to conduct an investigation over how licenses were allocated and whether the standards established in the initial licensing allocation process were fair.

Time to Clean up the Government

Addressing the public on his decision, President Obrador said that he first needs to tidy up the government and ensure that all licensing process is indeed “adequate.” He specifically called the licenses issued under former President Fox not tailored to meet the market needs and enabling certain bidders to gain an advantage.

The process of “cleaning-up” has been ongoing, but it has not been completed yet, the President said. President Obrador is known as a hardliner on corruption and crime on all levels of governance.

He has already purged some key high-ranking officials in the government and police to try and ensure a fairer system for all. President Obrador is also not a friend of casinos. His ambition is to have a country that doesn’t host casinos, but this is still debatable as a strong push from operators continues.

For now, President Obrador has put any legislative efforts on halt, cautioning that any attempts by the local authorities to circumnavigate his order would be met with action from the Supreme Court.

He reminded of the Gobierno del Cambio, when the government authorized the unlicensed opening of casinos, leading to violence, financial crimes, and admittedly slowing down the progress of licensed casino operations in Mexico for years.

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