After an in-depth analysis of the current state of gambling in Mexico, one thing has become very clear. The state of gambling in general is quite complicated. Of course, the same thing could be said about the state of gambling in almost every country in the world.
Historically, Mexico has always been supportive of gambling, dating back hundreds of years. However, the government’s support of certain forms of gambling wasn’t memorialized until the implementation of the Federal Games and Draws Law, which went into effect in January 1948.
More recently, the country has been working to create new laws that would govern certain forms of online gambling. In 2004, some new laws were established related to the onset of online gambling. But, as recently as 2015, other online gambling legislative efforts have failed with no new and meaningful gambling legislation currently in the works.
With all of this in mind, let’s look a the legality of gambling in Mexico as it stands today.
Retail Gambling in Mexico
In Mexico, playing lotteries has long been an acceptable form of gambling as long as the lotteries are regulated by the National Lottery for Public Assistance. While bingo is also an acceptable form of gambling, it only covers bingo games that are run as part of a fund-raising effort. That leaves horse race betting, sports betting, and retail casino play.
Horse Race Betting
Horse racing has always been part of the Mexican gambling landscape. In fact, there was a time when the Agua Caliente Race Track was one of the most popular horse racing venues in North America. Horse race betting in Mexico is still legal under the watchful eyes of the Gambling and Raffles Bureau.
Retail sports betting is legal in Mexico. Such gambling activities are also regulated by the Gambling and Raffles Bureau. Throughout the country, there are dozens of stand-alone sportsbooks as well as many others attached to retail casinos. Most sportsbooks will accept wagers on betting markets from all over the world.
In Mexico, there are close to 300 retail casinos operating legally under the regulations set forth by a separate entity tied to the Gambling and Raffles Bureau. Usually, retail casinos are connected to a popular Resort or Hotel. There doesn’t appear to be any significant regulations that restrict certain games. Therefore, it’s safe to assume that retail casino players have access to slots, video poker machines, and a full slate of table games.
Online Gambling in Mexico
The Mexican government addressed the advent of online gambling with a new set of regulations created in 2004. What came of those laws seems to be very clear.
First, Mexican residents are permitted to use online sportsbooks and casinos. However, they are only permitted to use foreign or offshore sites that are properly regulated by a significant governmental regulatory body and are willing to accept players from Mexico. It is illegal for Mexican residents to use any gambling sites that don’t meet these criteria.
Despite such restrictions, many of the online casinos in compliance will offer incentives to players. This includes special codes to win real money with no deposit required. Due to intense competition, these offshore casinos will offer generous bonuses which is a big win for gamblers.
While offshore online gambling is permitted by law, there are no provisions in the law that would allow an online sportsbook or casino to operate on Mexican soil. There were attempts to bring country-based online gambling to Mexico in 2014 and 2015. Unfortunately, those efforts failed and no new regulations have been contemplated in recent years.
Keeping in mind that Mexico draws millions of vacation visitors every year, online gambling regulations are not generally applicable to said visitors. However, access to unlicensed gambling sites is usually blocked on the internet. A visitor would have to use a VPN to bypass such restrictions.
It’s worth noting that the state of gambling in Mexico mirrors what is going on in dozens of other countries. What’s clear is the gambling industry has entered a period of fluidity. Things are changing and changes are likely in Mexico in the next few years.