The outlook for Mexican casino gaming is not good, at least in the near term, meaning the prospect of competition for Las Vegas from south of the border is just about dead.

A congressional committee in the Mexican lower house Wednesday approved a federal gaming and lottery law, but stripped out language legalizing casinos – in effect leaving land-based casino gambling illegal.


That means there won’t be any competition for Nevada from Mexico anytime in the foreseeable future, said Bear, Stearns & Co. analyst Michael Tew.


Wall Street analysts and industry insiders had said Mexican casinos would not represent a competitive threat to Las Vegas’ gaming industry, but lodging industry analysts had said such visitor attractions and the deflection of airline seat capacity to Mexico could affect Nevada.


The committee action also could mean the end to plans by Nevada operators to develop operations in Mexico.


Bill Wortman, an owner of the Nevada Palace on Boulder Highway, said last year he planned to build a gambling complex in the border town of Reynosa, Mexico, across from McAllen, Texas. He planned to spend $100 million to build a casino and 18-hole golf course.


Other Las Vegas operators had expressed interest, but had not released details of any specific plans.


Without passage of the federal gaming law, however, any such plans remain blocked, at least for the time being.


The original proposal considered by the legislative committee in Mexico would have modified a 55-year-old law that prohibits most forms of gambling.


The bill approved by the committee prohibits the creation of permanent casinos, but permits them on cruise ships sailing in national waters.


The bill, promoted by the governing National Action Party and supported by the Party of the Democratic Revolution and some representatives from the Institutional Revolutionary Party, modified a broader measure that would have legalized casinos.


The controversial legislation would have allowed more than a dozen casinos to be built at popular Mexican tourist destinations such as Acapulco and border cities, including Tijuana.


Despite the ban, there is an estimated $500 million-a-year gambling industry in Mexico that includes sports betting, horse racing, cockfights and casinos.


The Mexican Chamber of Commerce has estimated casinos could attract another 11 million visitors to Mexico yearly.


By legalizing gambling, Mexico could also collect much-needed taxes from an estimated 2,500 clandestine operations where people play poker and bet on slots.


The Mexican Association of Hotels and Motels had estimated an initial expense of $1.8 billion to build 10 casinos could generate $3 billion in total revenues a year and create 115,000 jobs.


Defeat of the measure was “no surprise,” said Bear, Stearns analyst Jason Ader. “The government had been looking at it, but obviously there were problems.”


Legislation legalizing casino Togel Singapore gaming had been proposed by Mexican President Vincente Fox, as a way to improve a battered tourism industry, fund state programs and put a stop to illegal gaming in the country, Ader said.


“While it appears that legislators may have a achieved a foothold in the country … Mexico’s religious groups and police force were … opposed to casino gaming, and have typically blocked legislative efforts to expand gaming in the country,” he said.


Tourism business owners in Mexico who feared competition from major gambling operations also were strongly opposed to the proposal.


Legislators and officials of the Chamber of Commerce of Mexico had said there was broadbased popular support for the measure, and the downturn in the visitor industry had given it a 90 percent chance of passage.


The bill passed by the committee this week must still be ratified by the full session of the lower house and the Senate before becoming law, and could be amended to again include legalized casino gambling.


“The potential for meaningful legislation passing (now) has been diminished because the government is going to be focused on more important budget issues, Ader said.






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