Mexican poker and Mexico’s new gambling laws are sure to generate plenty of talk in that country, where outdated regulations are scheduled for a major overhaul. But it’s possible that regulations related to online poker could also have an impact on the livelihood of some American pros that have relocated south of the border.
According to Fernando Zarate Salgado, President of the Mexican Gaming Commission, a new gaming bill will be presented to the nation’s House of Representatives on September 9. The hope is that the law will then be passed by September 20.
Few Details Available on New Laws
Details on the law are currently few and far between. While it’s hoped that the new regulations won’t be as harsh as those proposed last year, it’s been said that there will be tighter controls on who can apply for casino licenses in Mexico. The minimum age to play in the nation’s brick-and-mortar casinos will be raised to 21, and an Advisory Council will be created that includes the secretaries of Health and Tourism and input from non-governmental organizations.
It’s expected that the new laws will also address online poker and other Internet games, though it is unclear how these games will be impacted. It’s hard to look at current laws for any guidance, either: since the gambling laws that are in effect now were written in 1947, they don’t even reference online gaming, let alone make any attempt to regulate it.
Online Poker Players Unsure What to Expect
That means that there’s no telling where the committee that wrote the current bill will choose to go when it comes to online poker. For now, Mexican poker pros are simply waiting and hoping for the best.
“Everything depends on the new reform, as that could soon introduce some important changes in the country,” Mexican poker professional Christian de Leon told PokerNews Latin America. “There have been many speculations and a lot of talks, but the truth is that we can’t say anything until the new laws will be voted…we have to wait for the new bills to be adopted, so that we will be able to see how things will go from there.”
American Poker Pros Could See Impact
What might be less obvious is how these new laws could impact American poker pros who are residing in Mexico to continue their online poker careers. Depending on what the new regulations are, those currently living in Mexico might be looking for a new place to play.
For instance, it’s possible that Mexico could put a strong regulatory framework into place, in which online operators must apply for licenses to offer Internet poker or other games in the country. If they were to follow the model used by many European nations, that could lead to a segregated Mexican market that is cut off from the worldwide poker community. Mexico is likely large enough to support such sites, but it still wouldn’t be as lucrative for professional players as playing on a worldwide site or network.
Until more details are released, though, players will have no idea if they’ll be facing no changes, a total ban on online gambling, or something in between. In any case, there shouldn’t be any immediate need for American players in Mexico to panic: given the time it takes to implement new regulations, it’s unlikely that any changes will go into effect until spring 2015, at the earliest.