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Betting in Mexico

Published on: 01/02/2016

Mexico has not accepted gambling to the extent of many other Latin American nations; however, it is more tolerant towards the activity than the United States of America. Mexico is strongly connected with the Catholic Church which forbids most types of betting, however, Mexico’s political history has changed over the years with many forms of wagering such as craps and cockfighting being permitted.

Mexico’s gambling history can be traced back to the Aztec times. Later, in the nineteenth century, the country enjoyed many gambling activities including casinos. However, these establishments disappeared in the 1930s due to the advance of the reformist government run by President Lazaro Cardenas.

In the 1940s, nearly all forms of gambling were made illegal. Exempt from this new legislation were pool, dice, dominos and sports betting. However, underground wagering remained popular forcing the government to re-think its strategy, and to debate the pros and cons of regulation.

Towards the end of the last century, one leader after another promised to amend the gambling until finally, in the late 1980s, Mexico’s government gave permission to a company located in Tijuana to promote sportsbooks. However, it took a few more years for the market to be fully opened up.

Mexico’s government allowed its gaming and raffle department (Secretaria de Gobernacion) to authorise number-style betting games in 2004. Shortly after, licences were granted under the new legislation (Regulation to the Federal Gaming and Raffle Law). A year later, “racinos” were established to offer games machines and pari-mutuel betting. This paved the way for many more gambling activities - including non-authorised forms of betting such as roulette and blackjack.

As of today, punters in Mexico have many wagering opportunities available to them, such as video-game machines, sports betting, lotteries, scratch cards, bingo, Jai Alai, dog racing, horse racing, cock fighting and bullfighting. The minimum age to partake in gambling and alcohol consumption is 18.

Mexico’s 31 states, including the Federal Capital District, boast at least 40 large gambling establishments, as well as casinos and games machines venues. Mexico City and Juarez each have thoroughbred race tracks and Tijuana has a greyhound racecourse. A company known as PalyCity is the country’s major games facility operator, offering slot machines, sports betting and bingo - the media have nick-named the company “casino-lite”.

Poker is becoming more accessible in certain casinos, as are the gambling games of Texas Hold ‘em and Caribbean Stud. The most recent casino on the scene is the Playboy Club in Cancun. It spans approximately 13,000 square feet of gaming space and has been created in preparation for more relaxed gambling laws in the not-too-distant future.

In Mexico, sportsbooks have been fully endorsed for a while; however operations have not been governed until lately. Punters can place bets on an array of international and local sports activities, with Mexico’s main gambling establishments being managed by Caliente. They have at least 50 shops throughout the country and also welcome wagering through the internet or over the phone. The Mexican people have other gambling options available to them as they are free to wager via foreign betting web sites. Currently there are almost 500 online sportbooks available, many of which provide information using the Spanish language including William Hill, Paddy Power, Betfred, Party Bets, Bet365, Gamebookers, Expekt, Unibet and Ladbrokes.